New Berlin - For the second year, the New Berlin Police Department has honored residents as well as its own officers for distinguished service.
Included was a resident who chased down someone who had burglarized his house, a New Berlin mother who busted a shoplifting ring that had operated all over the metropolitan area, and a 71-year-old tough-guy Franklin man who showed a 22-year-old robber that he should have not messed with him.
Also honored were off-duty Waukesha police officer from New Berlin who may have saved the life of a little girl who fell through the ice, another city resident who saved a life using CPR and a woman who nailed a couple using a fraudulent prescription.
In addition, seven police officers were recognized.
"We're always talking about citizens being our eyes and ears," New Berlin Police Chief Joe Rieder said.
Honoring citizens for distinguished actions on the same day officers receive the same recognition is symbolic, Rieder said.
"It shows we're part of you and you're part of us," Rieder said. "It's a natural fit."
For instance, consider Michelle Bratel, who was with her 10-year-old son checking out at Target, 4798 S. Moorland Road on Dec. 1, when she saw a woman and girl leaving the store with carts heaped with merchandise.
Bratel alerted the cashier to the massive shoplifting incident in progress. Although the clerk alerted store security, nothing happened and the shoplifters looked like they were getting away.
This no-nonsense mom was not going to let that happen.
Appalled at the nerve and greed of the woman, and the fact that the woman had involved her daughter in crime. Bratel followed them into the parking lot.
"I was very angry," Bratel acknowledged.
But she also was very careful. Bratel stealthily got a photo of the license of the suspects' car, careful not to alert a man inside the car who may have been serving as a lookout. He had his back to her and didn't notice what she was doing.
"I pretended like I was texting," she said.
She managed to get such a clear shot that New Berlin police were able to set in motion efforts that nabbed a whole ring that had been operating in the metro area, the police chief said.
"I'm really happy. It's cool they found so many people and were able to stop it," Bratel said.
Thwarting other thievery
Others who tried to help themselves to something that wasn't theirs also learned a lesson.
What happened to tough-guy Daniel Schatzman, 71, of Franklin was more personal.
Schatzman was just getting out his wallet to pay at the gas station/convenience store at Moorland Road and Cleveland Avenue on a nice August day last year when a man, 22, ripped his wallet away and ran.
But Schatzman was right behind him. He tackled the thief at the side of Cleveland Avenue. Ironically, the thief hung onto Schatzman's wallet but dropped his own.
Police got to the robber's home almost before the thief did, Rieder said.
A conning couple didn't fare any better, thanks to the heads-up efforts of Michelle Bonjean, who works at Walgreens, 3855 S. Moorland Road. She foiled their attempt to get narcotics with a fraudulent prescription.
Bonjean was suspicious of the fake prescription and called the doctor who supposedly wrote it. So, when the couple returned to get their drugs, they got handcuffs instead.
In late November, off-duty Waukesha police officer James Rottscholl was walking his two dogs near his New Berlin home.
Suddenly, he saw two boys and a girl getting ready to venture out onto the ice-covered pond at Gatewood Park, 14201 W. Kostner Lane.
Knowing the ice was probably too thin, Rottscholl shouted for the children to stop, Rieder said. The boys did, but the 10-year-old girl kept going. Sure enough, she broke through the ice and suddenly was in icy water up to her chin.
Rottscholl ran into the water almost as fast, making his way to the child. He got her out and called for help. An ambulance took the child to the hospital.
Rieder said Rottscholl may well have averted a tragedy. No one would like have seen what transpired and the boys had no way to call for help.
"It's very possible she would have stayed in the pond for several minutes," and hypothermia would have been a real danger, Rieder said.
Another happy ending came about because Vern Radtke learned CPR.
Radtke stepped in when a man collapsed at the New Berlin Senior Center. Radtke's efforts led to the man regaining consciousness and he made a full recovery, Rieder said.
New Berlin police officers also honored for distinguished service were:
Life Saving Awards went to Officers Rick Helm and Jeremiah Johnson, whose actions helped save a man who had collapsed at his home from a heart attack. The man who is in his late 50s and whose youngest child is still a teenager made a full recovery.
A Life Saving Award went to Officer Chris Bayley for his quick action in saving a man who was in police custody and experiencing excited delirium, which can result in death.
Letters of Commendation were awarded to Officer Mark Herbst and Detective Forrest Clevenstine for their work on the extortion case leading to the conviction of the Eisenhower High School student for sexual assault of a child and who was sentenced in February 2010.
A Letter of Commendation went to Officer Bill Majeskie for his efforts that led to the arrest of scrap metal thieves.
A Letter of Commendation was awarded to Officer Kevin Schultz for his skill in evidence processing that led to arrests in several cases over the past few years.
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