Patrick Shanahan/Provided From left, Officer Andrew Navarro, veteran and MBA candidate Matthew Welch, Investigator Stanley Slovik, Sgt. Anthony Bellamy, Officer Ellen O'Pray and Chief of Police Kathy Zoner at a Feb. 11 recognition ceremony.

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Two Cornell University police officers and a Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management MBA candidate were recognized Feb. 11 in Barton Hall for intervening in critical situations in which they risked their personal safety to help others.

Patrick Shanahan/Provided
From left, Officer Andrew Navarro, veteran and MBA candidate Matthew Welch, Investigator Stanley Slovik, Sgt. Anthony Bellamy, Officer Ellen O’Pray and Chief of Police Kathy Zoner at a Feb. 11 recognition ceremony.
From left, Officer Andrew Navarro, veteran and MBA candidate Matthew Welch, Investigator Stanley Slovik, Sgt. Anthony Bellamy, Officer Ellen O’Pray and Chief of Police Kathy Zoner at a Feb. 11 recognition ceremony.

Police Officer Andrew Navarro nominated graduate student Matthew T. Welch for his actions Jan. 8 of this year. Welch, a U.S. Army veteran, had been walking east on Campus Road by Gates Hall when he saw a man grab a woman by the coat, throw her to the ground and start to beat her.

Welch pulled the man off the woman and placed himself between the two. Keeping the man at bay, he helped the victim, who was pregnant, to retreat to a safer location until the Cornell University Police (CUP) could intervene. According to Chief of Police Kathy Zoner, Welch then provided “the critical assistance and testimony to bring the man to justice.”

These actions, Zoner said, “are in the finest traditions of military service, wherein physical and moral courage, selfless service and sacrifice are cherished values.” Navarro presented Welch with the department’s Citizenship Award.

Also at the awards ceremony, Sgt. Anthony Bellamy and Investigator Stanley Slovik were presented with CUP’s highest commendation, the Medal of Valor, for their actions during the fatal Ithaca Commons truck accident June 20, 2014.

The two off-duty officers were traveling together when the driver of the tractor trailer behind them lost control of his vehicle, swerved around them and crashed into Simeon’s restaurant. Armed only with hand-held fire extinguishers, the officers entered the unstable, burning building to look for trapped or injured restaurant patrons or bystanders.

The officers then assisted the Ithaca Police Department in obtaining witness statements. “Our officers are peace officers and, as such, are not required to act as police when they are off-duty,” said Zoner. “No amount of training can create the desire to help, the disregard for personal safety in the service of others more gravely impacted than they displayed that day.”

Patrol Officer Ellen O’Pray, who had nominated Bellamy and Slovik, presented them with the Medal of Valor to recognize “the heroism, bravery and professionalism you displayed that day.”

The Medal of Valor is an award for bravery or heroism performed “at extreme, life-threatening, personal risk. It recognizes officers whose actions could be considered as having gone above and beyond the call of duty, or to recognize an officer who has performed an act of bravery displaying an extreme amount of courage while knowingly facing imminent danger.”

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.