February 24, 2016

Cornell Graduate Student and Police Officers Honored for Interventions

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A Cornell graduate student, Matt Welch ‘17, and two Cornell police officers were recognized at an award ceremony in Barton Hall on Feb. 11 for their interventions in dangerous situations, according to the a University press release.

While walking by Gates Hall on Campus Road on Jan. 8, Welch saw a man grab a pregnant woman, throw her to the ground, and start to beat her. Welch pulled the man off of the woman, placed himself between the woman and the attacker, and escorted the woman to a safe location until CUPD arrived.

“No one expects something like that to happen on campus, especially at a location that is normally heavily trafficked by the public,” Welch said. “I quickly dropped my bag and ran across the street to intervene.”

Welch, who spent time as a Construction Project Manager in Afghanistan and led a platoon of combat engineers for 18 months, said that his military experience helped him intervene effectively.

“[I was able to] quickly asses the situation and decide on a course of action that would solve the incident with minimal collateral damage, both to myself and the attackers,” he said.

“The conditions for you to intervene are rarely going to be in your favor, but we owe it to each other as a community to create an environment where deciding to intervene is the rule rather than the exception,” he added.

The two officers recognized at the ceremony were Sgt. Anthony Bellamy and Investigator Stanley Sloviak for their actions during the Ithaca Commons truck accident June 20, 2014. Both officers received CUPD’s highest commendation, the Medal of Valor, an award given for heroic acts taken at “extreme, life-threatening personal risk,” according to the Cornell Chronicle. The two officers were traveling together off-duty when a truck driver lost control and crashed into Simeon’s Restaurant.

“Armed with only hand-held fire extinguishers, the officers entered the unstable building to look for trapped or injured restaurant patrons or bystanders,” according to the Cornell Chronicle. The officers then assisted the Ithaca Police Department with collecting witness statements.

“No amount of training can create the desire to help,” said Police Chief Kathy Zoner.

“I am proud of the selfless acts performed by Sergeant Bellamy and Investigator Slovik,” Zoner said. “Their character goes beyond training and ‘duty.’”

The actions CUPD’s award ceremonies recognize include life-saving, honor, valor, merit, letters of commendation, service recognition, and traffic education and enforcement Zoner said.

“We believe that an engaged community increases the safety of everyone in it,” Zoner said. “Recognition of those who go act in the service of others, even though it is not a part of their ‘job,’ reminds people that we are all in this world together and that all of our efforts matter.”