On Saturday, May 16, the Judges and Police Executives Conference of Niagara County held its annual Lawman Dinner. The event honors honor law enforcement officers from Niagara County who go above and beyond their duties.
This year, Chief John Swick of the Middleport Police Department and Deputy Shannan Zimmerman of the Niagara County Sheriff's Office were honored for their heroism. They received the Hon. Wesley Arnold Memorial Lawman of the Year Award.
On Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, at approximately 9:35 a.m., 911 calls were received at the Niagara County Communications Center reporting an apartment fire at 143 Telegraph Road in the Village of Middleport. Swick and Zimmerman were dispatched to the scene and were advised people were trapped inside the burning building.
Upon their arrival, both officers received information that occupants in an apartment had not exited the building. The officers attempted to enter the front door of that apartment and were met with heavy smoke. Both officers then ran to the rear of the apartment building and found the upstairs bedroom window open. Officers were able to yell to the resident and she advised she had four children in the bedroom along with her sister.
At this point, Swick instructed the resident to begin handing the children out of the window and drop them into his arms. Swick was able to grab all four children and pass them to Zimmerman. Using a ladder, Swick was then able to have both remaining occupants exit the apartment. All six occupants of the apartment were transported to a local hospital for smoke inhalation.
Due to the quick response and actions by these officers, all occupants were rescued safely.
"These two officers should be very proud of their actions on that day and the fact that they saved lives," said Michael Filicetti, president of the Judges and Police Executives Conference of Niagara County.
Also at the awards dinner, new board of directors members were sworn in for the 2015-16 term.