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Ohio Officer Wins Top Award

Sergeant Richard Resendez with President Bill Clinton
It was a trip to the gym that would end up in Washington, D.C.

Sergeant Richard Resendez, of the Lorain (Ohio) Police Department, was regarded by coworkers as a good cop any day of the week. An incident on May 23, 1996, however, underscored his commitment as an officer.

Resendez, off duty, was on his way to work out at the "Y" when he heard a Lorain Police Communications Center broadcast about an armed bank robbery that had just occurred in this vicinity. "At the time, I was in my T-shirt and shorts... no vest. It was my son's 10th birthday and I had taken the day off, but when the alarm came in , I didn't give it a second thought," Resendez told POLICE.

The description of the suspect and the MO resembled those of a suspect who had committed a string of robberies in the area recently while adorned with dark, wraparound glasses and a long-haired, black wig.

The department's current plan was for officers to try to cut off potential escape routes, so Resendez began to scout the area. He spotted a van matching the description of the suspect's car at a service station, notified headquarters and called for backup.

At that point, suspect and officer recognized each other from a previous encounter. Resendez drew his service weapon and attempted to take Victim Chaney into custody, but the suspect put the pedal to the floor and the van flew out of the gas station lot.

Resendez gave chase, advising assisting officers of the situation. When Officer Corey Earl joined the chase in his marked unit, Resendez requested that he take the lead in the pursuit.

Reaching speeds of 80 to 90 miles an hour, Chaney fled through several towns with Resendez, Earl, and several other officers hot on his heels.

In mid-flight, the pursuit took an even more dangerous turn. Chaney began firing a semiautomatic pistol at the officers. As the bullets skipped across the pavement, a police unit from the city of Elyria was hit. Resendez was forced to again take the lead when Officer Earl's unit was disabled by Stop Stix, laid out by the Ohio State Patrol. Chaney's car had also lost its tires but he continued to drive on the rims for nearly five more miles.

When Chaney rounded a corner in downtown Elyria, he lost control of the van and struck a parked car, which in turn, struck a pedestrian, pushing her into a plate-glass window (amazingly, she was not seriously hurt).

Chaney took off on foot. He had fired several rounds at the police officers and they believed that he was still armed. Resendez chased the suspect into an alleyway. At the end of the alley was a group of bystanders. Chaney was headed their way.

Resendez called for the suspect to stop, but made the decision to fire to ensure that Chaney would not reach the end of the alley only to take a hostage.

Chaney recovered from injuries to his lower buttocks and went on to face multiple bank robbery charges, along with several counts of attempted murder of a police officer. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Sgt. Resendez, pictured on the left, with Director John Magaw, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms at the Top Cop Awards. Sergeant Resendez went on to face an enthusiastic audience and to receive the National Association of Police Organization's Top Cop award in Washington last October. Of the experience, Resendez told POLICE , "I have nothing but praise for NAPO. It was a great honor to be up there with those other guys. I felt grateful and humbled. Some friendships were sparked there and we still keep in contact." Reflecting on the pros and cons of high-speed pursuits, Resendez concluded , "In this particular instance, due to the knowns and his propensity for violence, we needed to effect arrest in the most appropriate manner possible." In retrospect, the sergeant added, "It come down to training. I take training a lot more seriously now."