From left: North Cowichan/Duncan officers Const. Megan Kowalewich, Cpl. Stephen Merrick, Const. Thomas Peters, Const. Keith Lansdowne, Cpl. Lita Watson and Const. Leanne Szalai. Not pictured is Const. Mathew Banfield, who is now with Saanich Police Department. (Submitted)

North Cowichan/Duncan Mounties honoured for valour

“It takes a special kind of person to serve in law enforcement”

Police officers from across the province were honoured on Nov. 21 at the 38th annual Police Honours Night at Government House in Victoria.

Six current officers from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP officers, and one who has since moved to a new detachment were among the 114 recognized.

“It takes a special kind of person to serve in law enforcement, those who know the dangers and challenges of their profession but remain committed to serve with pride and never shy away from their duty,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

He joined Lt. Gov. Janet Austin to present the awards to officers for their bravery in life-saving incidents, their devotion above and beyond the call of duty and their work to make B.C.’s communities safer.

“Those recognized tonight have demonstrated exemplary courage and conviction,” Austin said. “It is an honour to hear the stories of these brave men and women, who serve British Columbians often at the risk of their own lives. We thank them for their service and acknowledge all who support them to do such impactful work for the province.”

Receiving awards of Valour — the highest award a police officer is able to obtain — were Cpl. Stephen Merrick, Constables Mathew Banfield (now with Saanich Police Department), Megan Kowalewich, Keith Lansdowne and Thomas Peters. The group worked together to rescue a woman trapped in an unstable vehicle that was in danger of sliding into the Cowichan River. The incident occurred on Quamichan Road West in the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 2017. The officers worked together to gather ropes and hoses from nearby yards to secure the car.

In addition, Cpl. Lita Watson and Const. Leanne Szalai earned honours for meritorious service which recognizes the exemplary performance of those who answered the call to service in exceptional ways.

Watson and Szalai worked with members of the Duncan Fire Department to save a suicidal, intoxicated youth and his friend from jumping off the edge of a school roof on Dec. 29, 2018.

“We are proud of these two groups of officers that showed their commitment to the people and community they serve by putting themselves at risk to assist others,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Swain, Operations NCO for North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP. “Our officers are consistently running towards danger in situations like this, for that we are proud to work with them and grateful they are working in our community.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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