At the time, their actions may have gone unnoticed by the general public, but a select group of Independence Police Department personnel received recognition Monday night for their above and beyond efforts.

At the time, their actions may have gone unnoticed by the general public, but a select group of Independence Police Department personnel received recognition Monday night for their above and beyond efforts.

The police department presented its 2009 awards during the Independence City Council study session. Ten police personnel were recognized in three different award categories for their efforts during the last calendar year. They are:

Life Saving Award (There were two awards presented in this category.): Sgt. Clayton Swatzell and Officer Logan Waterworth. On Feb. 19, 2009, Swatzell and Waterworth responded to a suicide by hanging call at the 1100 block of South Glenwood Avenue. Officers lifted the male victim and removed the television cord wrapped around his neck. The victim became conscious and was taken to a medical facility for treatment. Life Saving Award: Sgt. Steve Boles, Officer Rick Pope and Det. Sean Arnold. A woman hanged herself in a detention cell on Sept. 5, 2009. Boles, Pope and Arnold responded, removed the noose and determined she was without pulse and was not breathing. The officers began CPR until the arrival of paramedics, which helped keep the woman alive. The ambulance’s advance life support resulted in the woman’s heart beating again. Meritorious Service Award: Officer Matthew Wiss and Sgt. John Passiglia. Wiss and Passiglia reviewed accident reports in fall 2009 and observed an unusual increase in traffic accidents near interstates 70 and 470. Most of the accidents had occurred on wet pavement. The officers contacted the Missouri Department of Transportation and reviewed the data from the intersection. MoDOT agreed to pay the expenses of resurfacing the road with a high-friction surface to provide better traction. Certificate of Commendation (There were two awards presented in this category.): Detective Joe Christiansen. Christiansen was placed on a limited duty status in October 2007 because of an on-duty injury. Supervisors assigned him to a cold case homicide from summer 1998. A suspect had been determined in the case, but no physical evidence or witness statements were available for prosecutory purposes. Christiansen reviewed the investigative file and contacted people interviewed in the past for any new knowledge. Physical evidence and lab results also were reviewed.


In July 2009, Jeffrey S. Sauerbry was indicted on one count of felony murder for allegedly stabbing to death William Kellett on July 4, 1998.

Certificate of Commendation: Sgt. Steve Boles and Officer Barry Huwar. On April 4, 2009, Boles and Huwar conducted an area canvas for an auto theft suspect. Boles observed a man walking near 35th Street and Lee’s Summit Road. Boles stopped, exited his vehicle and attempted to contact the man. The man pulled a handgun from his waistband and began firing at Boles. Boles moved back and fired his service weapon at the man.


Huwar arrived in the area. At this time, telecommunicators and officers did not know Boles was taking gun fire at a short range. Huwar saw the attack, notified personnel and also began firing his service weapon.

The suspect was taken into custody and received medical treatment for his wounds.