Cops of the 24th honored with Awards of Valor

Three 24th Dis­trict of­ficers were honored at the Na­tion­al Liberty Mu­seum last week for brave po­lice work in both Port Rich­mond and Kens­ing­ton.

Three of­ficers from the 24th Dis­trict, which in­cludes parts of Port Rich­mond and Kens­ing­ton, were honored at the Na­tion­al Liberty Mu­seum in Old City with Awards of Val­or for pro­fes­sion­al con­duct un­der in­tense pres­sure.

But be­ing in­volved in these dan­ger­ous situ­ations doesn’t mean that they stop be­ing reg­u­lar cops, said Of­fice James Mar­tin of the 24th.

“We get cleared and we go back out on the streets,” Mar­tin said.

The Sev­enth An­nu­al Liberty Mu­seum Awards of Val­or ce­re­mony was held last Thursday. Forty-five po­lice, fire­fight­ers and cor­rec­tion­al of­ficers were honored for what most of them con­sider just do­ing their jobs.

Of­ficer Mar­tin, 30, who lives in May­fair in the North­east, has been an of­ficer for al­most a dec­ade. He re­ceived the Award of Val­or for a Septem­ber 2011 in­cid­ent in Port Rich­mond when he re­spon­ded to a re­port of a large crowd gath­er­ing around the scene of a stabbing, and was forced to fire on a sus­pect point­ing his gun at in­no­cent bystand­ers.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever had to use my fire­arm,” Mar­tin said. “Hope­fully, I’ll nev­er have to use it again.”

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, Mar­tin and oth­er of­ficers were at the scene when a Ford Ex­plorer drove at high speed to­ward the crowd. A male ex­ited the vehicle, began ar­guing with two ci­vil­ians, and then drew a gun and poin­ted it at one ci­vil­ian’s head. Of­ficer Mar­tin ordered him sev­er­al times to drop the gun, but when the sus­pect in­stead turned and poin­ted the gun at the of­ficers nearby, Of­ficer Mar­tin fired.

“I was very ap­pre­ci­at­ive to re­ceive the award,” Mar­tin said, but poin­ted out that he was not alone when the in­cid­ent oc­curred.

“I was with my part­ner and sev­er­al oth­er of­ficers. They were in just as much danger as I was. It could’ve been any one of them of­ficers that was with me.”

Mar­tin was honored a second time, along with his part­ner Paul Groves and Of­ficer Jen­nifer Welch for a sep­ar­ate in­cid­ent in Oc­to­ber 2011, when Welch chased down an armed rob­ber who fired sev­er­al shots at her from be­hind a parked car. Groves and Mar­tin were nearby at the time and quickly re­spon­ded to as­sist in the sus­pect’s ar­rest.

“Un­der the cir­cum­stances, I’m blessed to be alive,” said Of­ficer Welch, 41, who lives in Fox Chase in the North­east and has been a po­lice of­ficer for nine years.

After the awards ce­re­mony last week, which was also at­ten­ded by her sis­ters and fel­low of­ficers in the 24th, El­len Cal­lan and Maur­een Burns, Welch was honored again at Cit­izens Bank Park on Sat­urday dur­ing the pre-game be­fore the Phil­lies’ match-up with the Braves.

The in­cid­ent star­ted when she got a call about a rob­bery at Kens­ing­ton Av­en­ue and Hart Street. A rob­ber had de­man­ded the hand­bag of a wo­man in her car, and then al­legedly shot her in the ab­do­men when she didn’t com­ply.

As fel­low of­ficers got the vic­tim med­ic­al care, they broad­cast a de­scrip­tion of the sus­pect over the ra­dio. Of­ficer Welch had just star­ted her shift when she heard the call and star­ted sur­vey­ing the area. As she pulled up to E. Cam­bria and D streets, she no­ticed a sus­pi­cious male, who fit the de­scrip­tion of the sus­pect, star­ing at her.

“He turned and looked at me, and reached for his waist­band. At that point I rolled my win­dow down and had my gun out,” Of­ficer Welch re­called. She fol­lowed the sus­pect for about five or six houses as he walked north­bound on D Street un­til he sud­denly stopped be­hind a parked a car.

“He kind of poked his head out, and I thought he was go­ing to turn around and run. As I was do­ing that, kind of turn­ing around, he jumped out from between the parked cars and shot at me twice, strik­ing my vehicle’s driver side door. I re­turned fire, two shots.”

One shot hit the sus­pect in the chest, but he still ran three houses up the block. Welch gave chase be­fore Groves and Mar­tin ran up to as­sist in the ar­rest.

“We were right down the street when that happened,” Groves said. “We were that close to her. Me and Jimmy ran up, tackled the guy, and wrestled him til we got him in cuffs.”

Groves, 35, also of May­fair, has been an of­ficer for about nine years. He cred­ited his part­ner with the con­duct that led him to re­ceive the Award of Val­or.

“I learned everything I know from Of­ficer Mar­tin,” Groves said.

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at sne­w­

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