By Chris Fish
PALM BAY -- The Palm Bay Police Department's Crisis Negotiation Team was named Florida's 2013 Team of the Year by the Florida Association of Hostage Negotiators on Thursday, June 13, in Cocoa Beach.
The award, which was presented at FAHN's annual conference, was awarded to Critical Incident Commander Capt. Nelson Moya, CNT Team Leader Lt. Jim Richmond and CNT Officers Cj Woronka and Mike Roberts.
At the conference, the team presented details about how they worked jointly with patrol units, SWAT personnel and more than half a dozen other responding agencies to resolve a seven-hour standoff on July 14, 2012.
"It was a huge honor for the team and the department," Officer Woronka said.
At the incident nearly a year ago, Officers James Bearden and Shane Carroll executed a warrant to arrest suspect Mark Clark at his home in Palm Bay for aggravated assault. Mr. Clark was reported the day before as threatening his family and any law enforcement that intervened.
When the two officers arrived at the residence, officials said they located the suspect outside on the porch area. After a verbal exchange, officials said the suspect went inside and then began firing at the officers, who retreated and attempted to subdue the active shooter. Officer Bearden was treated and released from the hospital after being shot in the jaw, and Officer Carroll was also injured in a non-serious fall, officials said.
Over the course of seven hours, officials said the CNT, along with the SWAT team, convinced the suspect to surrender four times before he finally agreed to surrender a fifth time.
"It was truly a team effort that demonstrated the importance of a unified response during a crisis," said Lt. Richmond, the lead negotiator of the incident, in a news release. "Our first priority is always a peaceful resolution."
The CNT began in 1989, and it currently consists of 12 members.
"We are so proud of the entire team for their response in this critical incident, which was magnified by the fact that one of our officers was shot," said Chief Doug Muldoon in a press release. "Everyone who responded that day demonstrated great patience, professionalism and dedication to the overall safety of the public during crisis. Our CNT deserves this recognition."
Officer Woronka said this would also be the final time this award will be presented, so being the last team to receive this recognition only adds to the honor.