The Brookfield-LaGrange Park Lions Club honored three Brookfield first responders at the Brookfield Village Board’s meeting on Oct. 12, belatedly awarding then with 2019 Police Officer of the Year and Firefighter of the Year plaques.
The awards were to have been handed out this spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the ceremony. At the village board meeting earlier this month, Lions Club President Jeremy Vitell was able to continue the 25-year tradition, recognizing police officers David Kudla and David Harrison as co-Officers of the Year.
Harrison and Kudla received the award based upon their CPR efforts, which helped save the life of a 73-year-old man who slumped to the floor unconscious while drinking coffee at Loca Mocha in the Brookfield train Station last December.
“These are two of our very best,” said Police Chief Edward Petrak in presenting the awards to his officers.
Both officers have been with the department for nearly 20 years. Kudla also serves as the department’s juvenile officer and serves as a liaison to local schools. Harrison, a military veteran, has also served as a detective.
Harrison has been involved in three life-saving incidents in the past 10 months. In addition to the Loca Mocha incident, he was the first officer to respond to Prairie Avenue train crossing after 11-year-old Maxx Kusper was hit by an Amtrak train in March, rendering the initial first aid. Kusper was seriously injured and was hospitalized for nearly two months while recovering.
He was also one of the officers recognized for life-saving actions after responding to a fireworks explosion in July that seriously injured two men, one of whom lost both hands.
The Lions Club gave its Firefighter of the Year Award to Brookfield Fire Capt. Brian Baldwin, who stepped into the role of interim fire chief for more than three months following the retirement late last year of Chief Mark Duffek.
A firefighter for 29 years, Baldwin came to Brookfield in 2001 and has served in many roles, including as a fire investigator. The Lions Club awarded Baldwin the same honor in 2003 and 2011.
“He is a great resource not only for me but the entire village,” said Fire Chief Jim Adams. “His passion and leadership is contagious as evident by the firefighters under his command.”