By Jim Biros
Several current and former University of Wisconsin-Superior students will be recognized at the Superior Police Department’s Awards and Swearing in Ceremony on Thursday, May 10, at 3 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.
“A lot of these officers are very humble, and being recognized in this way can be difficult for them,” said Superior Police Department Officer Marc Letendre. “Some of these events are very traumatic and often not necessarily positive experiences. To be recognized for this, they are very humbled that someone is taking the time to tell them they’ve done a great job.”
A 2017 graduate of UW-Superior, Taavi Mattson will be among the new officers added to the department. Mattson, a 2014 graduate of Superior High School, is currently working in the Douglas County Jail. A member of the Superior Police Department Auxiliary, he will attend the Criminal Justice – Law Enforcement Academy program at Chippewa Valley Technical College later this month.
Current student and Superior Police Department dispatcher Ashley Engelman will receive a meritorious award for her work talking a suicidal teen through a crisis and ultimately preventing the death of that teen.
Lifesaving Awards will be presented to six different officers, which will include UW-Superior alumni Officer Charles Mahlen, Officer Mikayla LeRette, and Officer Tyler Rude. Current UW-Superior student John Fontaine will also receive a Lifesaving Award and multiple letters of commendation.
UW-Superior graduate Officer Griffith Coffman will receive four letters of commendation for his service.
UW-Superior Campus Safety Officer Keith Douglas and Officer Joseph Eickman will also receive letters of commendation for assisting the Superior Police Department with an arrest.
“These officers are receiving awards because they have responded very well under pressure and responded well to something going wrong, but that event itself is not necessarily a positive,” said Letendre. “It’s a time to recognize among ourselves people who have done something that was above and beyond.”
Coffman, Fontaine, and Rude will also receive Fitness Awards.
Prior to the events, UW-Superior student and Duluth resident Maria Puglisi will perform the national anthem.
“I feel very honored to be singing at this event, especially after seeing how much the Superior Police Department helped the community during the explosion at the refinery,” said Puglisi, a double major in Vocal Performance and Biology. “There are some amazing people in the Superior Police Department, and I am very happy that I can support them through singing at their ceremony.”
For Puglisi, this will be the first time performing The Star Spangled Banner at an event of this magnitude.
“This is very exciting for me,” she said. “I’ve sung the national anthem at sporting events and school assemblies, but I’ve never had the opportunity to sing at an event as important as this awards ceremony.”