HOBART | Merrillville police Officers Matthew Vasel and Luke Shaw were able to successfully defuse a volatile situation in March 2012 involving a woman who threatened to commit suicide.
When the woman refused to drop her gun and pointed it at the two officers, Vasel was forced to shoot her, officials said. She was treated for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.
Almost a year to the day, Vasel received the 2013 Officer of the Year Award during Friday’s 12th annual outstanding Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Officers awards ceremony at Avalon Manor.
“Bravery is part of the job. I’m just humbled that they appreciate what we (law enforcement) do. We don’t always get it from the public,” said the 28-year-old Merrillville resident and four-year member of the Merrillville Police Department.
“I think I thought about it afterward,” Vasel said about being in the situation with a distraught woman pointing a gun at him and having to shoot her. “You do what the job requires.”
Vasel also was recognized as the highest producer for patrol activity for 2012 “due to his high motivation and dedication to duty,” said Diane Poulton, co-chair of the awards ceremony.
During 2012, Vasel is credited with 1,046 traffic citations, 33 operating while intoxicated arrests, 177 adult arrests, 230 case reports and for responding to 1,111 calls for service.
More than 100 law enforcement officers and officials attended Friday’s luncheon sponsored by District One Law Enforcement Council and The Northwest Indiana Public Information Officers Association.
A moment of silence honored Lake County Sheriff’s Police Officer Britney Meux, who was killed in the line of duty on March 6, 2012.
Lake County Prosecuting Attorney Bernard Carter told those gathered that “it’s easy to sit in our offices and review the case reports, to be Monday morning quarterbacks.”
Carter also talked about his older brother, who was an East Chicago police officer for 32 years.
“My mother always wanted to know when his shift began and ended. She had peace of mind that her son was out there protecting people and wanted to know that he arrived home safely,” Carter said. “Our goal is to have all of you return to your families intact at the end of your shifts.”
Lake County Sheriff John Buncich saluted the officers whom he called “my brothers and sisters.”
“It’s only right that we honor officers who went beyond the call of duty. With our profession, individuals are quick to criticize. But 99.9 percent of you — my brothers and sisters in law enforcement — go out there every day, 24/7 and do what has to be done,” Buncich said.