Petersburg Mayor Al Dwyer presented its first Medal of Honor to Petersburg Police Sergeant Heidi F. Agner.
“This is a real honor for me,” Dwyer said. “This is the first Medal of Honor that has ever been issued to a member of the Petersburg Police Department.”
The commendation reads: The Petersburg Police Department's highest award is the Medal of Honor which is to be awarded to an employee that distinguishes themselves by a confirmed act of conspicuous bravery where hostile action and or extreme personal danger is involved in order to preserve or defend the life of others.
Sgt. Agner was nominated by her co-workers to receive the award.
The award was issued because of her actions on the night of Oct. 4 when dealing with an intoxicated individual who had fired shots with an assault rifle, was threatening to kill police officers and appeared to want to force her and other officers to kill him.
After successfully stopping him from entering a populated area with a road block, Agner took the lead in confronting the suspect and engaging him in conversation and using skills as a trained negotiator in getting him to eventually surrender. Agner exposed her position by shining her lights on him, lessening the risk to her fellow officers and placing herself in extreme personal danger during a confrontation that lasted about an hour.
“It takes a great deal of courage to face such a challenge,” Dwyer said. “It takes even more courage to refrain from using deadly force under these circumstances. As a negotiator, you used your skills to save the very life of the person threatening you.”
Dwyer also explained that very few members of the public hear about or understand the courage that an officer draws upon when the officer does not use deadly force when its use is justified.
“For you to function in such an admirable capacity for an extended period of time is truly extraordinary,” Dwyer said.
“I know that officers often second guess themselves in a deadly force incident,” Council Member John Hoag said. “No one deserves to second guess what you did that night, your actions were commendable. No one gets to say you didn't do something that was truly heroic and we thank you.”