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Chester County Press

Miguel Juarez named Kennett Township Police Officer of the Year

03/08/2022 02:42PM ● By Richard Gaw

Courtesy photo           Kennett Township Detective Miguel Juarez received the 2021 Officer of the Year award on March 3. Pictured with Juarez are, from left to right, Supervisor Geoffrey Gamble, Esq.; Kennett Township Manager Eden Ratliff; Vice Chair Scudder Stevens; and Kennett Township Police Chief Matt Gordon.


By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Detective Miguel Juarez of the Kennett Township Police department was named 2021 Officer of the Year, during ceremonies held at the township’s Board of Supervisors meeting on March 3.

Police Chief Matthew Gordon recognized Juarez for the diversity of his efforts in many areas of the department over the past year. They included Juarez’ uniformed crime reporting to the FBI; streamlining the department’s accident reporting to the state via Car Fax technology; and overseeing the department’s car and body camera system.

Juarez was also credited for restoring the department’s computer and records management after a ransomware attack on the township’s IT system.

In addition, Juarez modernized the way the department repairs and documents the maintenance of its fleet of vehicles. He also filled many shifts on patrol and in the administrative wing of the department, and used his bilingual-language skills to become first Spanish speaking negotiator for the Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team, as sell as assisted many outside agencies with his Spanish speaking abilities.

“Detective Juarez is a self-starter who works extremely hard, is always up to the challenges and strives to become a better cop every day,” Gordon said. “He interacts very well with his peers and supervisors in the police department as well as his interactions with the townships administrative staff.”

Heroic rescue

Gordon also recognized township Officer Mark Todd, Sergeant Brandon Fuller of the Longwood Fire Company and Foreman P.J. Groff of the Kennett Township Public Works Department, for their work in saving the life of a driver on Nov. 15, 2021 in the 700 block of Cypress Street near Mill Road.

The incident was dispatched for an accident involving a vehicle that had rolled over an embankment and landed in Red Clay Creek. Multiple calls to 911 advised that this vehicle was occupied and was sinking in the heavy rains that occurred that evening.

Realizing that her car was sinking and filling with water, the victim retreated to the back seat, but this area was also quickly filling with water, forcing her to retreat to the rear hatch area of her vehicle to find oxygen. Upon his arrival on the scene, Todd removed his body armor and swam toward the vehicle and, using his Coast Guard-approved brake caliper tool, broke a window on the vehicle and pulled the victim clear from the submerging vehicle.

Todd then started to swim with the victim towards the creek bank and was joined by Fuller and Groff, who helped remove the victim from the water. The victim was treated for fractured neck vertebrae and treated for her exposure to the frigid water but has since been released from the hospital.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the victim was seconds away from drowning if not for the immediate lifesaving efforts of Officer Todd,” Gordon said. “Gentlemen, congratulations on your successful lifesaving efforts that day. It reflected your true dedication, professionalism and heroism during those precious seconds when a life was truly in the balance.”

Collaboration with Kennett Square Police Department

Gordon also recognized township police Corporal Jeffrey Call for his work with Officer Chris Parrish of the Kennett Square Police Department on Nov. 11, 2021 involving a firearm.

Upon their arrival at the Granite Ridge development off of McFarlan Road, Call and Parrish found an adult male outside and suffering gunshot wounds to his lower leg and foot. They immediately initiated life saving measures, including a tourniquet that Parrish applied to stop the bleeding before EMS arrival.

While trying to find the location of the shooting suspect, Call and Parrish were told that the suspect had fled the scene but that a family member was talking to the shooting suspect on a family member’s cell phone. Call was able to deescalate the situation by speaking to the suspect’s girlfriend, when he found out that the shooting suspect was still armed and at an address in Oxford Borough.

Call was able to convince the caller to leave the firearm at the residence and arranged for the suspect to turn himself in at the Oxford Borough Police Station. The suspect was later arrested at the station and confessed to this crime. In addition, further evidence of this crime was recovered by Kennett Township Police Detectives at the home and the suspect’s vehicle which will aid in the prosecution of the suspected shooter.

“The efforts of Corporal Call and Officer Parrish resulted in the saving of the life and the arrest of the armed suspect who fled the shooting location,” Gordon said. “Their efforts in getting the suspect to turn himself in eliminated any further chance of additional violence if the suspect remained on the run. Their efforts in this incident reflect greatly on themselves and their chosen profession.”

Gordon told the board that he is proud of his department’s diversity as well as their strong work ethic – especially given the many challenges it has faced during a global pandemic and the loss of two officers for the majority of 2021.

“Like all first responders who put their lives on the line everyday much of their hard work is done without fanfare but what they do every day is important and necessary,” Gordon said of his staff. “Then there are days like today, where we can spotlight some extraordinary efforts of our honorees on behalf of people that were in immediate need of assistance, people they didn’t know. They did so without the thought of the risk that they were taking on.

“There is a saying in our industry that says, ‘You don’t get to pick the day; the day picks you,’” Gordon added. “I personally know that to be true. When these tragedies come upon us suddenly like on that day, the day doesn’t care if you’re ready or not, the day doesn’t care if you have all the tools and resources you need. The day doesn’t care if you had time to prepare. The day doesn’t care if you feel well, if you’re tired, if you have enough help or if you have enough time. The day just says, ‘Tag, you’re it.’”

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].