SUNDRE — Two former members of the local RCMP detachment were among 16 recipients presented last month with Commissioner’s Commendation awards in recognition for bravery beyond the call of duty in stopping suspects who had led police on a dangerous pursuit.
Although he has since his service in Sundre been promoted to sergeant and is now a detachment commander of the small Manitoba community of Shamattawa, then-corporal Joe Mandel and his colleague Const. Dow York were presented with a commendation for bravery on April 14 during a private ceremony in Edmonton attended by RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, commanding officer of the Alberta RCMP.
“These are commissioner commendations,” Fraser Logan, Alberta RCMP media relations, told the Albertan. “So, that comes from the commissioner herself, as opposed to divisional ones that would come from our own commanding officer.”
Because of the pandemic, the Alberta RCMP had been unable to host such ceremonies as a result of past restrictions on large group gatherings, creating a bit of a backlog of commendations, said Logan.
According to an RCMP press release dated Tuesday, May 17, Mandel and York—as well as Cpl. Brian Johannson—were commended for bravery for their actions in bringing a dangerous police pursuit to an end.
On Oct. 13, 2017, three suspects in a stolen truck led Mounties on a multi-jurisdiction chase that involved road rage, threats and a collision — all of which lasted an hour and half and covered more than 100 kilometres, reads a portion of the press statement.
“It involved members from six different detachments and units including Police Dog Services, seven tire deflation device deployments, request for air services, two police-initiated vehicle-to-vehicle contacts, and two separate member-involved shootings. Members took actions of exceptional bravery and skill to resolve the incident,” it states.
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Bravery, as defined by the Commissioner’s Commendation awards criteria to qualify for consideration, “recognizes courage that is demonstrated in the face of extremely dangerous and volatile circumstances beyond what is commonly encountered in routine police work and which poses an imminent threat of personal injury or death.”
When asked what actions taken by Mandel and York went above and beyond the regular call of duty when considering how many other officers were involved in that major police response that day, Logan said, “Both York and Mandel essentially put themselves into harm’s way to block the suspects and to deploy a tire deflation device.”
The officers, he added, “demonstrated outstanding courage, presence of mind and action during an extremely dangerous and dynamic incident.”
Mandel has since gone on to become a detachment commander and sergeant, York is remains a constable but not at a detachment.
“He’s with our K Division training unit now,” said Logan, referring to York.
“To meet the high standards and considerable demands of a career in law enforcement takes a special type of person,” Commissioner Lucki was quoted as saying in the RCMP press release. “It demands extraordinary skill, profound knowledge, outstanding professionalism, and unflinching courage to keep Canadians safe.”
The other commendation categories are for outstanding service and volunteerism.
“Across our division, I can attest to the incredible courage, strength, and resilience of our employees in their actions of service for law enforcement every day,” Deputy Commissioner Zablocki, commanding officer of the Alberta RCMP, was quoted as saying in the RCMP press release.
“The enormous effort, actions of bravery, and service excellence by the award recipients has been a tremendous contribution towards our priorities of safety and well-being in our communities.”