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Medal of Valor

Torrance Officers Honored for Heroism

The South Bay Medal of Valor is awarded to individual police officers and firefighters who have distinguished themselves through bravery, heroism or other meritorious actions beyond the normal demands of service. The giving of the award is based on the imminent threat of great bodily harm or loss of life to the officer, a colleague, or a citizen.


It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat. --- Theodore Roosevelt 


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Keith Thompson (2007)

On July 7, 2007 at 12:30 a.m., a victim's vehicle was taken from her at gunpoint by a suspect.  The victim stated the suspect opened her rear vehicle door, pointed a handgun at her and ordered her to get out of her vehicle.  In fear for her life, the victim complied and exited her car.  As the victim began to run, she observed a second suspect standing at the rear of her vehicle. On the same date, a crime broadcast was made throughout the South Bay advising that a carjacking had occurred in the City of Hawthorne and that a male suspect took a lone female's vehicle at gunpoint.  The broadcast further advised that there were possibly two suspects. At 1:55 a.m., Torrance Police Officers located the carjacked vehicle at Reynosa Drive and Cabrillo Avenue driving without lights, possibly intending to commit another violent crime in the City of Torrance.  Officers attempted to stop the vehicle and a pursuit ensued eastbound on Sepulveda Boulevard to the southbound 110 freeway.  The pursuit was joined by Officer Thompson and his partner.

At the intersection of Gaffey Street and the 110 freeway, Officers attempted an unsuccessful P.I.T. maneuver on the suspect vehicle.  The suspect re-entered the 110 freeway, now driving northbound.  At this point, several Torrance PD units were in pursuit along with an LASD airship.  During this time, the suspect was driving erratically at speeds in excess of 100 mph. The suspect exited at Gage Avenue in Los Angeles and another unsuccessful P.I.T. maneuver was attempted.  The suspect continued to drive at a high rate of speed attempting to elude officers in a residential neighborhood.  With no regard for human life, the armed carjacking suspect drove at high speeds through residential streets and alleys. When the suspect crashed into a parked vehicle, Officer Thompson feared the suspect would continue to flee in the carjacked vehicle and commit more violent crimes.  Officer Thompson made the decision to place his life in harms way as he pinned the suspect's vehicle with his police unit.  When the suspect exited the vehicle, Officer Thompson observed the suspect to be holding a silver handgun and crouched down.  Fearing for his life and the life of his partners, Officer Thompson discharged his firearm, striking the suspect several times.

Officer Thompson is to be commended for his calm demeanor throughout the highly stressful incident.  Officer Thompson placed himself in harms way to protect his partners and to apprehend a highly dangerous suspect.


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Rick Crosbie and Mathew Schlerf (2004)

Officer Crosbie

Officer Schlerf

On March 8th, 2004, Officers Rick Crosbie and Matthew Schlerf were patrolling in the area of Torrance Beach and observed black smoke coming from an apartment on the Esplanade, in the City of Redondo Beach. They immediately notified Torrance Police Communications, who subsequently notified Redondo Beach Fire Department, as the officers responded to the fire.

Upon arrival at the fire, a citizen told Officers Crosbie and Schlerf that someone might still be in the apartment. Although the flames were quickly engulfing the smoke filled apartment, the officers risked personal injury by going into the tri-level apartment through the front door and then entering a burning room. They discovered a lone female still inside the burning apartment and they quickly pulled the victim outside and away from danger. The distraught, disoriented, and hysterical female realized she had left some personal items back inside the burning apartment

Again, risking their own lives, Officers Crosbie and Schlerf, reentered the burning apartment and restrained the victim from further jeopardizing her own safety; removing her from the danger. The Redondo Beach Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire. It is the opinion of the supervisor who was on scene, and witnesses, that had Officers Crosbie and Schlerf not acted as quickly and efficiently as they did, the occupant of the apartment would have been seriously harmed or would have perished in the fire. Officers Crosbie and Schlerf performed an act of extreme heroism, going above and beyond what is expected of Torrance Police Officers and their actions exemplify service, dedication courage.


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Steven Heglar, Jeffrey Livingston and James Rudolph (2004)

Officer Heglar

Officer Livingston

Officer Rudolph

On January 7th, 2004, during the morning hours, a Redondo Beach police officer confronted a suspicious subject in their City who immediately began shooting at the officer using a handgun; The subject fled the location and took a hostage while hiding in a nearby mobile home park. Officers combed the area extensively, but could not locate the suspect and the Redondo Beach Police called off the search after many hours.

Once officers left the area, the subject forced the hostage to drive with him from the area. The subject continually threatened the hostage with death and told the hostage that he would kill any law enforcement officer who attempted to arrest him. However, the suspect finally released the hostage and drove to the City of Torrance where he was observed by plain-clothes, surveillance detectives who monitored his driving movements. The detectives waited for uniformed, Torrance Police patrol officers to respond and attempt to stop the "Armed and Dangerous" suspect, and the responding officers included Officers Steve Heglar, Jeff Livingston, and James Rudolph.

The officers tried to stop the suspect, but he refused to give up and a short pursuit ensued. The pursuit ended when the suspect crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with a citizen's vehicle at Prairie Avenue and 190th Street. Officers Heglar and Livingston, working in the same unit, used their police unit to ram the suspect's vehicle to keep him from driving away. The suspect immediately began firing his handgun out the back window at Officers Heglar and Livingston. Several rounds struck the patrol unit, one of which penetrated the windshield in the area where Officer Livingston had been previously seated. Officers Heglar and Livingston exited their patrol unit and immediately began returning fire on the suspect. Officer Rudolph stopped his unit, deployed himself at the rear of the suspect vehicle, and also returned fire to assist Officers Heglar and Livingston.

Officers Heglar, Livingston and Rudolph, without hesitation or regard for their own personal safety, aggressively engaged the violent suspect who was determined to "shoot it out" with police. In the face of danger, the officers fired at the suspect until the threat to officers and citizens had ended.

Officers Heglar, Livingston and Rudolph's courageous actions averted a potential loss of life or injury to innocent citizens and officers.  These officers represent the finest qualities of dedication, service and courage. We are proud that these officers are part of our family and we are especially grateful that they emerged from this dangerous incident unharmed.


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Mark Athan (2003)

In the early morning hours of September 6, 2002, Officers Hector Bermudez and Mark Athan were traveling southbound on Hawthorne Boulevard with Officer Bermudez at the wheel. As the officers were coming to a stop for a red light at the intersection of Spencer Street, another vehicle traveling at approximately 35 MPH drove into the rear of their police unit. Both officers were apparently knocked unconscious as a result of the collision. Their vehicle was propelled forward through the intersection. The gas tank of the police vehicle had been punctured in the crash, and a fire immediately ignited in the area of the trunk. Officer Athan was the first to regain his senses and saw that Officer Bermudez was leaning forward with his chin lowered. He appeared to be unconscious.

Officer Athan shook Officer Bermudez and yelled for him to wake up, but Officer Bermudez remained non-responsive. Realizing the vehicle was on fire, Officer Athan jumped out of the vehicle, ran to Officer Bermudez's door and opened it. Officer Athan began pulling on Officer Bermudez and yelling in an effort to get Officer Bermudez out of the vehicle. Officer Bermudez woke just in time to push himself off of the floorboard with his feet and both officers fell backwards out of the unit and onto the ground. They quickly moved away from the police unit as it became completely engulfed in flames. After getting himself and Officer Bermudez to safety, Officer Athan went to the driver of the other vehicle  involved to check on his condition.

Officer Athan's actions were heroic. Injured and disoriented, he did not hesitate to risk his own life for his partner. There is no doubt that his quick actions, in the face of grave danger, saved Officer Bermudez from being more seriously injured or killed. We commend Lieutenant Athan's heroism.