Morrison PD honors officers at annual awards ceremony

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By Deborah Swearingen

As Jeremiah Wilbur prepared to leave dinner with his family one night in late October, he noticed a man choking.

Without hesitation, Wilbur went over to the man and began doing the Heimlich maneuver. Thanks to impeccable timing and Wilbur’s quick thinking, the man was fine.

“Had it been a minute later, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been there,” Wilbur said.

Ever humble, Wilbur is quick to tell you that he didn’t do anything special. But he saved a man’s life while off duty, and for that, the Morrison police officer was honored at the department’s annual awards ceremony.

In addition to Wilbur’s lifesaving award, a number of other officers received awards.

One of those officers was Joe Leo, a longtime member of the Morrison Police Department, who was recognized for years of service. He said he’s worked with Morrison for two decades — first as a part-time officer and now as a sergeant. At a small department like Morrison, which often serves as a feeder to larger departments, it’s rare for a person to stick around that long.

“You know, it’s just proved a good fit,” Leo said.

Leo helps with traffic at Red Rocks Elementary and serves on the school’s accountability team. Some days, he’s changing a tire; other times, he’s helping with more serious investigations; and once, he saved a fawn’s life.

Both Wilbur and Leo love the small-town feel of Morrison. Despite this, the town also deals with the reality of sprawl and a surging population, which Wilbur said creates an interesting dynamic for a police department.

The officers also agreed that they appreciate the chance to have a positive influence.

“I like being able to help out when there’s people in need,” Wilbur said. “ … I enjoy facing challenges and figuring out solutions to things that aren’t always easy to figure out.”

“You’re in the position to make a difference,” Leo said.

And he appreciates working for a department that recognizes hard work. For Chief George Mumma, that’s what it’s all about. He said honoring the team helps build camaraderie and shows the police officers that their work matters.

“It recognizes them for really good work,” Mumma said. “ … In police work right now, it’s seldom that they get recognized for great work, and these guys have done it.”