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Police officers receive Heinz Awards for going beyond the call

| Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, 12:24 a.m.
(FOR PTR) Pittsburgh police Officers Brendan J. Nee (left,) and Lawrence M. Connelly received the 'Starsky and Hutch Award' during the Twelfth Annual Senator John Heinz Law Enforcement Awards Day luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel Station Square, Friday, October 12th, 2012. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Federal Judge Mike Fisher (left) presents New Kensington police Patrolman Anthony Grillo with the Above and Beyond Award during the 12th Annual Sen. John Heinz Law Enforcement Awards Day luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel Station Square, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. Grillo was recognized for his actions during the fatal shooting of Lower Burrell Patrolman Derek Kotecki one year earlier. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh police Officers Angie Lane and Matthew Smith charged into a Knoxville apartment in February to find Donovan McKee bloodied, unconscious, with no pulse.

The boy, 11, suffered a brutal nine-hour beating from his mother's boyfriend because he refused to vacuum.

Lane administered rescue breathing while Smith performed chest compressions. Donovan showed signs of life and was rushed to the hospital, but he died.

“It was definitely an emotional day,” said Smith, 33. “I have nephews that age, so it really hit home.”

Lane, 24, said the experience was traumatic, but her fellow officers have taken care of her.

“I was most comforted that in the child's final moments he was surrounded by people who truly cared for his well-being,” she said.

Lane and Smith were among nearly two dozen police officers from across Allegheny County to be recognized on Friday for going beyond the call of duty at the 12th annual Senator John Heinz Law Enforcement Awards Day luncheon in the Sheraton Hotel at Station Square. About 400 police officers, family members and elected officials attended.

The awards ceremony, which honored officers from suburban, university and city police departments, is a way to show appreciation for what officers do every day, said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

“As an average citizen, it's really difficult to put into words the appreciation we feel,” Ravenstahl said.

Others who received awards:

• A lieutenant, sergeant and eight officers from the University of Pittsburgh Police Department received the 911 Quick Response Award for their heroics on March 8 when an armed graduate student opened fire inside Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland, killing one and injuring five before the officers fatally shot him.

• New Kensington police Patrolman Anthony Grillo received the Above and Beyond Award for his actions as the first officer to arrive after a fugitive fatally shot Lower Burrell Patrolman Derek Kotecki on Oct. 12, 2011.

• Monroeville police Detectives James Hredzak and Jon Pawlowski received the Crime Doesn't Pay Award for busting a drug ring and recovering hundreds of thousands of dollars.

• Pittsburgh police Officers Lawrence Connolly and Brendan Nee received the Starsky & Hutch Award for rescuing a man who jumped into the Monongahela River from the Birmingham Bridge in August.

Nee tracked the man's location from the shore while Connolly flagged down a boat and rescued the man.

Nee, 26, praised the boater who allowed them to use his boat before River Rescue arrived. Connolly, 29, said they didn't really think about the potential danger to themselves.

“The first thing we knew we needed to do was to get him to safety,” he said.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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