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Webb honored for passion in fighting drugs

by: Vern Uyetake, Officer Kevin Webb received the Officer of the Year Award from Lake Oswego Police Sunday for his work in preventing drug abuse.

Officer Kevin Webb says he sees drugs every day.

And as a patrol officer for the Lake Oswego Police, Webb makes it his mission to reach out to those who use them, not just through the law, but with a personal style that's affected at least one young life and made Webb the department's Officer of the Year.

Webb, 24, received the award Sunday at the second annual award ceremony for the Lake Oswego Police, held at the Crowne Plaza on Kruse Way.

He is the second officer to receive the department's top honor, leading a long line of top cops who will vie annually for the recently established award.

Described by fellow officers and supervisors as tenacious, committed and upbeat, Webb has turned regular patrol duties into a means of fighting drug abuse in Lake Oswego.

'He has a passion for working drug cases and he does it in a way that it seems like he really cares about the person and he's interested in making them better. He understands that it's an addiction,' said Jay Weitman, a sergeant in the department.

For Webb, that understanding comes from personal experience.

'A good friend of mine had a serious drug addiction and pretty much became a non-working member of society,' he said.

Webb, who was raised in Lake Oswego and attended Lakeridge High School, said watching addiction through his former classmate at Portland State University motivated his career.

As a patrol officer, colleagues say Webb does more than just his part.

Lt. Darryl Wrisley said Webb has a talent for turning routine traffic stops into drug cases.

'He creates situations that most people would overlook,' Wrisley said. 'He, by far, does more possession cases probably than anybody else combined … He's just 100 miles an hour all the time, just always, always working hard. He never quits.'

From Webb's perspective, he enjoys his work, finds it meaningful and believes pursuing drug crimes reduces other elements of crime in the community.

'From a law enforcement perspective, most crime is associated with drug use,' he said.

In a few short years, Webb's efforts have made a difference, especially in the life of one young resident whose loved ones have given Webb their thanks.

'I got the opportunity to see him go from being fairly involved in a drug addiction (heroin) to a straight A student back into athletics and academics,' he said.

Webb said those rewards are the reason he pursues drug investigations. He said he sees all kinds of drugs here, about half in possession of adults and the other half with children. He believes local residents and those who live outside Lake Oswego contribute equally to the problem.

'It's a beautiful community but truly no community is free of those,' said Webb. 'I don't like seeing those opportunities and sitting still.'

Webb also received an award for Looking Beyond the Ticket for the second year in a row, given to an officer who through observation and creative investigating turns traffic stops into a greater opportunity to prevent or solve crimes.

Additional honors at this year's award ceremony touched on three other categories. Eight personnel received Outstanding Service Awards, four received Life Saving Awards. Sgt. Tom Hamann was honored with the department's Top Shooter Award for marksmanship.

Other accolades included:

n Sgt. Jerry Douglas was honored for saving the life of a man who threatened suicide by putting a gun in his mouth. Douglas was able to talk the man into surrendering and getting needed help.

n Officer Suzanne Potts also saved the life of a suicidal man by tracking a blood trail after he cut himself with glass. She found the man hiding in bushes and talked him into dropping the glass. He was taken to a hospital.

n Officer Clayton Simon was credited with saving the life of a 70-year-old woman who suffered a stroke and was found lying face down in her home while a gas burner filled the area with natural gas. He carried the woman outside and evacuated the area where she lived, protecting neighbors.

n Senior Communications Operator Mary Kidd was credited with saving the life of a suicidal man by talking him into surrendering to police over the phone. He had barricaded himself in a house and had threatened to use weapons. Kidd was also able to sort out the real threat to officers and keep everyone safe.

n Officer Randy Stowe received an Outstanding Service Award for breaking into a Mountain Park home during an alarm, identifying a fire inside and saving a dog.

n Officer Dawn Walker was honored for helping a woman who suffered from dementia. Using creative thinking, Walker was able to resolve many of the woman's issues by buying her a radio to tune out troubling noises.

n Officer John Brent received an award for continually stepping up to fill vacancies, work overtime and train new officers. He has also identified critical needs in training for the department and established related programs.

n Detective Jon Harrington received an Outstanding Service Award for filing charges in a 26-year-old homicide using new technology. Harrington revived the double-murder case and used DNA evidence to pursue a suspect who had eluded police for decades.

n Detective Lee Ferguson was recognized for his investigative work on a series of burglaries in Mountain Park, and also on a stabbing in the downtown area.

n Officer Mike Brady was honored for solving a case of boat vandalism on Oswego Lake. Though the job could have been forwarded to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Brady went the extra mile to track a lead. He netted two suspects, a confession and was able to retrieve stolen property.

n Barbara Ripley, a communications operator, was honored for her behind-the-scenes efforts in keeping officers connected on cases, running background checks, coordinating emergency services on fires, working an armed robbery as a dispatcher and conveying vital information about officer safety during emergencies.

n Officer Jonithan Funkhouser received an Outstanding Service Award for working more than 20 hours to ensure the safety of an assault victim who was threatened during grand jury proceedings. Through his efforts, Funkhouser was able to get a search warrant for the suspect's car, pursue the fleeing man and seize a weapon that sealed the case.