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Heroic VIPD Officers Honored During Awards Ceremony

Police Det. Sgt. Anthony Hector was among the top honorees Wednesday as the V.I. Police Department held an awards ceremony titled "The Stellar Awards."

The event took place Wednesday morning in the Violet Damideaux Pavilion, located at the Patrick Sweeney Headquarters in Estate Golden Grove.

The Stellar Awards came about as part of the department’s policy to award official commendations to deserving people — both officers and civilians — for outstanding accomplishments. Awards may be given for acts involving grave personal danger in the performance of duty, for highly unusual accomplishments, or for laudable service to the department and/or the community, according to a VIPD news release issued Thursday.

The award categories were the Medal of Honor, awarded to officers who were wounded or seriously injured while carrying out their sworn duties; Wounded in Combat, awarded to officers who were wounded, injured or seriously incapacitated while carrying out their sworn duties; Police Combat Cross, awarded to officers for the performance of an act of outstanding courage or heroism without regard to impending personal combat with an armed adversary in the intelligent performance of duty; Exceptional Service Award, presented to an officer who has acted above and beyond the call of duty, under circumstances that involved a significant possibility of physical harm to the officer; Honorable Service Award, presented to an officer who over a period of time has served the community and the department with honor and dedication; and the Morale Booster Award, presented as an acknowledgement of dedication and service.

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Hector received four separate awards at Wednesday’s ceremony: Medal of Honor, Wounded in Combat, Police Combat Cross and the Exceptional Service Award, all rendered in connection with an incident that occurred in April 2014, when he engaged in a gun battle with five suspects and was shot in his back, leaving him near death.

The Police Combat Cross and Exceptional Service Awards were presented to Sgt. Leslie Williams and officer Luis Cedano for an incident that occurred in November 2014, in which the two officers were confronted by two armed suspects in the midst of robbing a jewelry store in broad daylight.

Also receiving the Police Combat Cross and Exceptional Service Award were officers Gregory F. Bennerson, David Stevens Sr. and Luis Cedano, for their involvement in a June 2014 attempted robbery of a local business by armed suspects, where the lives of a mother and infant hung in the balance.

Officers Rolando Huertas and Gregory Bennerson also received the Honorable Service Award, while the Morale Booster went to Detective Leon Cruz, and officers Vincent Heyliger, Reginald Pedro, Jessica Ventura and Rolando Huertas.

Throughout the event emotions ran high, according to the news release, but the most emotional moment of the ceremony was the presentation of the Civilian Service Award, given to civilians, whether or not they are department members, for an outstanding achievement, or for the rendering of valuable or courageous assistance to the members of the department and/ or the community. The award recipient, Victor E. John, is credited with saving Hector’s life by transporting the injured officer to the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital after he had been shot in the back at the Frontline Night Club in April 2014.

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