Thursday, April 25, 2024
52.0°F

TRUE BLUE

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | August 20, 2020 1:05 AM

PF Police honor three heroes

Post Falls Police Department Chief Pat Knight issued the Purple Heart, Medal of Valor, and Life-Saving Award to three department members for their service this year.

JUSTIN ANDERSON

During Tuesday night’s Post Falls City Council meeting, Knight awarded Sgt. Justin Anderson the Purple Heart award.

The Purple Heart award, established by PFPD in 2011, is given to a member of the department who suffers from a severe or disabling injury or death while furthering a police mission.

Anderson was conducting surveillance at a residence on March 3 where a suspect had been evading law enforcement.

After confronting the suspect, Anderson was shot in the abdomen and called for reinforcements. Anderson said he knew he was beginning to lose consciousness, so he focused on delivering information to backup units.

“A lot of staying alert in these situations comes through training and experience on the job and being on the streets for a number of years,” Anderson said. “It becomes second nature.”

According to Knight, because of Anderson’s experience and training, responders were able to resolve the situation while keeping the community safe.

“Sgt. Anderson is truly a credit to this department,” Knight said. “His dedication to service is commendable, and we are absolutely pleased to have him back to work.”

Now back on full patrol, Anderson thanked the department, the city, family, friends and God.

“The number of people who offered their support, visits at the hospital, and food for my family made coming back to work more natural,” Anderson said. “I’m most grateful to God for his provision, protection, and healing throughout the process.”

ALEX SPORLEDER

Officer Alex Sporleder was the first unit to arrive on the scene of Anderson’s shooting. As a result of his quick response and getting Anderson to medical attention, the PFPD awarded Sporleder the Medal of Valor, which is PFPD’s highest award given to members of the force who performed selflessly in the line of duty.

On the night of the shooting, Knight said Sporleder arrived at the scene and assessed Anderson’s injuries before transporting him to Kootenai County Fire and Rescue personnel.

“Within a minute or so of the gun fight ending, Officer Sporleder was there,” Anderson said. “It was a really good feeling seeing those lights come around the corner and seeing Alex step out of the car.”

Sporleder had been waiting nearby when Anderson called for a second unit.

“It was the first time I’d ever had a fellow officer say they’ve been hit,” Sporleder said.

When he reached Anderson, Sporleder saw he’d been shot in the abdomen below his protective vest.

“I don’t know if you can ever fully prepare for one of your buddies to be shot,” Sporleder said.

In addition to his U.S. Army service from 2005 to 2010, Sporleder is trained in Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training and External Response to an Active Shooter Event.

“Without the skillful and tactful actions of Officer Sporleder, Sgt. Anderson’s recovery may not have been so fortunate,” Knight said.

Sporleder started with PFPD in 2013.

“It was a humbling experience to be recognized for something that I just consider doing my job,” he said. “I expect that anyone else would’ve done it, and I certainly know that Sgt. Anderson would’ve done the same for me.”

LUKAS CRIGGER

On the morning of March 9, Officer Lukas Crigger responded to a medical call regarding an unconscious and barely breathing woman. From prior contacts, Crigger said he was familiar with the woman and knew she struggled with heroin and fentanyl abuse.

With medical assistance on the way, Crigger located the apartment where he found three children crying for their mother, who was on the bedroom floor unresponsive. Crigger deployed a dosage of Narcan to reverse the effects of her overdose. After waiting five seconds for a response, he began performing CPR.

“At a certain point, she reached up and tried to grab my hand,” Crigger said. “Which is a good sign because she was regaining a pulse, so I continued to give her CPR until I felt her arm gain strength and that life was inside her.”

The woman eventually agreed to medical transport to Kootenai Health, where she later went into cardiac arrest but was revived.

“If she had stayed at the house without going to the hospital, she would’ve died again, and no Narcan would have saved her,” Crigger said.

Crigger, whose brother overdosed on Fentanyl five years ago, felt a personal connection to this case. After the woman regained consciousness, Crigger visited her at the hospital to offer his support.

“I told her I’m not a Supercop. I’m just doing the same thing any officer would’ve done, but I told her she was luckier than other people,” Crigger said. “Officers didn’t have Narcan at the time of my brother’s death. My brother didn’t get a second chance, but I told her you do, and you have kids that depend on you.”

During the council meeting, Knight read a letter from the woman, who thanked Crigger for saving her life.

“I hate heroin and only did it because I was in so much pain. I was actively seeking treatment and was approved for funding when the Port of Hope closed down. I wasn’t aware that Kootenai Behavioral Health had a treatment center,” she wrote. “God works in mysterious ways, and I don’t think our previous meetings were an accident.”

For his actions, the PFPD honored Crigger with the Life-Saving Award, which is presented to department members who have distinguished themselves by performing or reacting to a medical situation that saved or prolonged a life.

“The feeling of actually saving a life far outweighs any gratitude for the award,” Crigger said. “I still have the letter she wrote to me, and I keep it out to remind me of why I’m here, what I’m doing and why it matters.”

photo

Post Falls Police Department honorees stand together after the award ceremony at the city council meeting Tuesday night. Officer Lukas Crigger (left) received the Live Saving Award, Purple Heart recipient Sergeant Justin Anderson (middle), and Medal of Valor honoree Officer Alex Sporleder (right). (MADISON HARDY/Press)

photo

Post Falls Police Department Captain Jason Mealer (left) and Sergeant Justin Anderson (right) shake hands and embrace after Anderson was given the Purple Heart award at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. (MADISON HARDY/Press)

photo

Post Falls Police Department Sergeant Justin Anderson shows off his Purple Heart award after being honored at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. (MADISON HARDY/Press)

photo

Post Falls Police Department Captain Jason Mealer (left) and Officer Lukas Crigger (right) receive a standing ovation after Crigger received the Life-Saving Award at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. (MADISON HARDY/Press)