By Larissa Mulkern

Hampton Union

Friday, February 8, 2002

HAMPTON — Would you know what to do if someone pointed a gun at you?

Thanks to ongoing training, a number of Hampton police officers knew exactly what to do and survived separate incidents last year involving armed suspects. Last week, the Hampton Police Department bestowed special recognition to the officers involved in these and other incidents. Awards were presented at the department’s annual awards ceremony held Jan. 25.

Police Officer Steven O. Henderson received a Combat Medal Award for his performance and heroism on June 26, 2001, when police responded to reports of shots fired at the home of James H. Bates, 55, of Drakeside Road. When police arrived on scene, Bates was found in the back of the house with a loaded handgun, which he pointed at Henderson, according to published reports. Bates did not comply with Henderson’s repeated commands to lower his weapon, and when Henderson saw the gun pointed in his direction, the Local and state police gather on Drakeside Road in Hampton at the scene of a shooting in Hampton Tuesday morning. The shooting victim had barricaded himself in his home and was taken to Exeter Hospital for a gunshot wound. Staff phOtO by Emily Reify officer fired a single shot from a shotgun, grazing Bates’ leg and ending the incident.

“While engaged in personal combat with an armed adversary and facing imminent personal hazard of death or serious injury, Officer Henderson was able to bring to close an incident in which he was confronted by a man armed with a handgun…,” according to the department statement.

Detective Sgt. Shawn M. Maloney received a Meritorious Service Award for assisting Henderson in the same incident.

Officers Joseph M. Jones and James W. Aham Jr. both received Meritorious Service awards for their response to an incident reported Feb. 5, 2001, when “under adverse conditions in which a degree of hazard to the officer and injury to another officer was prevented.”

The officers confronted a man armed with a loaded shotgun during a domestic disturbance. The officers were able to disarm the man and place him under arrest without injury.

Hampton Police Chief William Wrenn said he is very proud of the way officers handled themselves.

“Anytime you’re facing a gun pointed at you, you know your life is on the line,” Wrenn said. “Yet these officers, even in the face of danger, did their job and did it well. In both cases, the officers stayed calm.”

Ongoing training is key.

“We train all the time for use of deadly force, both in the classroom and on the range,” Wrenn said. “In Henderson’s case, only when the weapon was raised and there was imminent danger did he fire, and in doing so he only wounded Mr. Bates with a non-life-threatening injury.

“Certainly, the training paid off in these cases because officers were able to control the situation and know what they had to do.”

Acts of kindness and acts of acute observation also warranted kudos.

Sgt. Daniel J. Gidley received a Letter of Commendation for his “outstanding performance and compassion” for an incident that occurred on March 24, 2001.

On his off-duty time, Detective Gidley went to the home of an elderly woman and repaired a broken window that was damaged by a suspect who resisted arrest by police.

In his second award of the year, Officer Henderson received a Letter of Commendation in connection with an incident reported March 24. The officer was off duty when he came upon two suspects that fled the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving a suspected stolen automobile.

Henderson and an off-duty State Police trooper were able to physically detain the suspects until uniform officers arrived.

Chief Wrenn praised the actions of the officers who performed on and off duty. “Gidley not only responded to the home of the elderly woman,” Wrenn said, “but returns a couple days later to fix the broken window. I’m proud of the fact he did that.”

He also praised Henderson’s actions in the capture of the two car theft suspects.