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Officers honored for community policing

Emerson College officers win MACLEA Awards

Left to right, Emerson College Police Deputy Chief Eric Schiazza, Officer Walter Patterson, Officer Erik Tebeau, Chief Robert Smith.

Two Emerson College officers were honored by their campus police colleagues last month – one for the life he saved, the other for the many lives he may save down the road.

Officer Walter Patterson, who revived a man overdosing on an opiate on Boston Common, earned the Heroic Action Award from the Massachusetts Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (MACLEA). Officer Erik Tebeau was presented with the Administrative Initiative Award for creating and implementing a campus-wide heart health initiative.

They were honored in a Dec. 18 ceremony at Tufts University.

“In policing…it used to be you only got recognized if you made an arrest or if you got in a car chase or if you, you know, confiscated pounds of drugs,” Emerson Police Chief Robert Smith said. “What these two officers got awarded for is in line with both the College’s and the department’s culture, which is community policing.”

Patterson was monitoring a bus loading zone in May 2014, when he heard people shouting for help on Boston Common. As he approached the scene, the people yelling scattered, and he found a man out cold, Smith said. Recognizing that the man had overdosed, Patterson called for his partner to order an ambulance and began CPR.

In the five minutes it took for the ambulance to arrive, the man’s heart stopped – and was brought back by Patterson – three times.

But Patterson, who has performed CPR three times in about 10 years, said the heroics were all in a day’s work.

“You kind of think, ‘It was just part of my job.’ It is nice to be recognized, [but] you do your job and move on,” Patterson said. 

Tebeau, who is a CPR instructor, approached Smith about getting Emerson designated a Heartsafe Community by the Metropolitan Boston Emergency Medical Services Council and the Department of Public Health’s Office of Emergency Medical Services – one of only four colleges in the state that is.

Tebeau did the necessary research, bought new automated external defibrillators for every Emerson building, and set about training close to 200 Emerson students, faculty, and staff for CPR certification, Smith said.

“CPR is something that’s the easiest to do to increase safety,” Tebeau said, who added that the department offers training throughout the year; the only cost is what the American Red Cross charges for the certification.

As part of the initiative, ArtsEmerson got all of its ushers certified. Most College residential advisors, took part, too, even though they weren’t required to get training, Smith said.

“It actually helped us to establish internal partnerships we never had before,” said Smith. “It really showed community policing at its best.”

This was the first time Emerson campus police submitted nominations to MACLEA, said Deputy Chief Eric Schiazza, who nominated Tebeau.

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