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News Detail




NPS-USPP: Officers Receive Award for Actions in D.C. Navy Yard Shootings


Bureau: National Park Service


USPP officers receiving their awards 

U.S. Park Police Pilot Sgt. Kenneth Burchell and USPP Rescue Technician Sgt. David Tolson receive the Airborne Law Enforcement Association's Captain 'Gus' Crawford Memorial Aircrew of the Year Award for 2014 (From left, ALEA President Kurt Frisz, Burchell, Tolson, and Airbus Helicopters Law Enforcement Market Sales Manager Ed Van Winkle (Airbus Helicopters sponsors the Gus Crawford Award). Photo provided by Ryan Mason, Airborne Productions, courtesy of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association.

On Friday, July 18, U.S. Park Police Pilot Sgt. Kenneth Burchell and Rescue Technician Sgt. David Tolson received the Airborne Law Enforcement Association’s Captain ‘Gus’ Crawford Memorial Aircrew of the Year Award for 2014. 

Captain Crawford, a law enforcement aviation pioneer, was the commanding officer of the New York Police Department Aviation Bureau at the time of its founding. The award acknowledges a pilot and/or crewmember(s) whose flying efforts and proficiency characterize ALEA’s motto, “To Serve and Protect from the Air.” 

For the nomination period of April 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014, the United States Park Police were nominated twice for flying efforts during the Navy Yard shooting on Sept. 16, 2013.

On that date, a lone gunman entered Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., and began shooting people, creating an active shooter incident. As calls for help were received, multiple law enforcement agencies responded.

U.S. Park Police helicopter Eagle I, crewed by Burchell and Tolson, was asked to assist by the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. The Navy Yard is located directly across the Anacostia River from their hangar, also known as “the Eagle’s Nest.” Tolson, in turn, asked for additional aircraft due to the possibility of a mass casualty incident.

Due to the proximity of the Washington Navy Yard to Washington/Reagan National Airport, Eagle I notified Washington Tower, which in turn diverted air traffic from the immediate area and designated Eagle I as “air boss,” for aircraft coordination in the Navy Yard area.

On this tragic day, the crew of Eagle I initially assisted with aerial reconnaissance and perimeter control, simultaneously performing air traffic control. The crew then switched roles for the deployment of SWAT personnel and reconfigured for the extraction of a critically injured woman, which resulted in a medevac transport.

The crew returned to bring in another SWAT officer and extract the final three survivors. In the final phase, they returned to reconnaissance and perimeter control. Air operations terminated with a total of 5.5 hours flight time. All of these operations were conducted with an active shooter below them.

For these acts, the Airborne Law Enforcement Association awarded Burchell and Tolson the 2014 Captain “Gus” Crawford Memorial Air Crew of the Year Award. Officer/Rescue Technician Michael Abate was also presented an ALEA Presidential Citation for his roles in the incident.

By: Sgt. Lelani Woods, public information officer, USPP, NPS
August 19, 2014