KEARNEY — Two Kearney police officers — Sgt. Jared Small and Officer Jon Alstrom — received commendations for performing far above and beyond the call of duty for subduing a man with a knife on Oct. 21.
It was a life-threatening situation, but the two officers performed in a “heroic or exemplary fashion,” in eliminating the risk that someone’s life might be lost, according to KPD Chief Bryan Waugh, who presented the commendations before the packed council chambers during Tuesday’s Kearney City Council meeting.
Nominating his colleagues for the commendation was KPD Lt. Jason Koetters, who prepared the account of the Oct. 21 incident that Waugh read when presenting the commendations to Small and Alstrom.
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“At approximately 5 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2019, Officer Alstrom was dispatched to and responded to a call for service at an address on east 29th Street. Officer Alstrom contacted the reporting person who reported that her adult son threatened her and another female with a knife and a hammer and refused to let them leave the residence. The adult male suspect had left the residence prior to Officer Alstrom’s arrival.
“While officers were searching the area for the suspect, they were dispatched back to the original address as the suspect had returned and still had a knife. Dispatch advised that the suspect was being held at gunpoint in the front yard by his brother in an attempt to keep him from re-entering the residence.
“Sergeant Small and Officer Alstrom arrived on scene at the same time with Sergeant Small on the west side of the residence and Officer Alstrom on the east side. Sergeant Small directed the brother back into the residence and Officer Alstrom advised over the radio that he had the suspect at gunpoint on the east side of the residence and the suspect was holding a knife to his own throat.
“Sergeant Small ran to his patrol car to retrieve the less lethal beanbag shotgun. Officer Alstrom continued his contact with the suspect giving loud, repetitive, verbal commands ordering the suspect to drop the knife. The suspect was threatening to hurt himself with the knife and was ignoring Officer Alstrom’s commands.
“The suspect then ran away from Officer Alstrom. Officer Alstrom remained calm and kept other officers aware of his location over the radio and chased the suspect on foot. Sergeant Small returned to his vehicle and drove to the area of east 31st Street and Avenue B, where Officer Alstrom had caught up to the suspect and was holding him at gunpoint as the suspect continued to hold the knife to his (own) throat. Sergeant Small arrived and advised officers he had less lethal (force available) and then deployed beanbag rounds, striking the suspect. Sergeant Small was giving loud commands to drop the knife prior to deploying the rounds and during the confrontation. The suspect dropped the knife and went to the ground where he was taken into custody.
“Sergeant Small continued to display excellent leadership skills, directing officers to secure patrol cars that had been left unattended and secure the scene. This situation could have easily been a lethal force encounter had Officer Alstrom not had the presence of mind to keep a safe distance from the suspect and Sergeant Small had not been able to deploy the less lethal rounds.
“The entire event was completed professionally and resulted in the suspect being taken into custody with no injuries to officers and minimal injury to the suspect.
“This incident is a perfect example of the dangers faced each day by members of the Kearney Police Department and law enforcement. The high level of training and equipment available were used and allowed for a safe conclusion. The actions taken by both Officer Alstrom and Sergeant Small are to be commended.
“It is my pleasure to award both officers with the Kearney Police Department Commendation Award, for both of their actions directly contributed to reducing the risk of injury and potential loss of life.”