July 31, 2019
Beyond the Call: 15 Honored at CMU Police Awards Ceremony
By Kelly Saavedra
Carnegie Mellon University’s Police Department (CMUPD) paused this week to honor those among them who have gone above and beyond — some risking their own well-being — to keep members of the CMU community safe.
Officer Tyler Jaecke is one of those brave law enforcement officers at Carnegie Mellon who recently put the welfare of a campus community member ahead of his own. During a dramatic move that saved a man’s life, Jaecke, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, suffered a serious brain injury that required eight months of rehabilitation before he could return to work.
For his selfless, life-saving actions, Jaecke was presented with the Medal of Valor at this year’s CMUPD Awards Ceremony on July 29, which honored 15 men and women in blue.
“Many of these men and women literally put their lives on the line to save a member of our community,” said Lt. Joseph Meyers, who coordinated the event. “It’s important that we show how much we appreciate them, and even more important, for the people who work at Carnegie Mellon and who are part of this community to be aware of what these officers are doing.”
Three members of the CMUPD were honored with the Life Saving Medal for actions they took during the past year: Sergeant Leah Nock, Sergeant Michael Cavaliere and Officer Robert Staaf.
CMU Police Officer Jeff Varchetto and Security Officers Natalie Sullivan and Kathryn Borland each received a Certificate of Recognition for their excellence, dedication and commitment to public safety, while retired university officers Lorraine Underwood, Ray Mialki and James Berry were honored for their decades of service to the city and the CMU community.
“Many of these men and women literally put their lives on the line to save a member of our community."
Lt. Joseph Meyers, CMUPD
Three members of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police also were recognized at the ceremony, shining a spotlight on the valued partnership between CMUPD and the City of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Police Officers Shane Kearns and Cassie Lee and Night Watch Commander Michael Pilyih, who were involved in separate successful life-saving efforts over the past year, were presented with the Life Saving Medal.
“I just thank God I was in the right place at the right time,” Commander Pilyih said. “Zone 4 [in Squirrel Hill] was extremely busy that night. When I put the call on the radio, the CMUPD were there before I think I even let go of the mic, so I thank them for that. They took care of everything.”
CMU Police Chief Tom Ogden said the relationship between CMU, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and the City of Pittsburgh is exceptional. Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert agreed, noting the university is fortunate to have Ogden in charge.
“Chief Ogden is a good man. He cares about what he does. He cares about helping people, and he cares about accountability and fairness. You’re very fortunate to have him as your chief,” Schubert said.
Ogden honored two people in his department with the Chief’s Award. The first went to Security Officer Jim Moran, a former New York City environmental police officer, for his consistent extra effort and dedication to the CMUPD. Widely known as a “go-to” person, Moran consistently pitches in when and where he’s needed. In addition to his security patrol, he helps to train new officers, fills in as a transportation driver, assists with Special Olympics and teaches self-defense as a member of the CMU Crime Prevention Program.
The second Chief’s Award went to Accreditation Manager Rhonda Diercks, for her exceptional supervision of the department’s most recent reaccreditation process.
Ogden said less than 10 percent of law enforcement units in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are accredited, and the first university police department in Pennsylvania to be accredited was the CMUPD.
“It means we have best practices. It means we’re inspected by outside entities,” Ogden said. “Being accredited is really the key to professionalism because we hold ourselves to a much, much higher standard than most police departments.”