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HPD officers to receive awards





Three members of the Hays Police Department's Special Situations and Response Team will be honored next month by their peers.

Bronze awards for exemplary service will be presented in July to Aaron F. Larson, Christopher J. Hancock and Brandon M. Hauptman for their actions that resulted in ending a nearly 4-hour standoff with an armed man during blizzard conditions.

They were nominated for the award, to be presented by the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, by their chief, Don Scheibler.

Scheibler is a recipient of the group's gold award -- honored for pursuing and being shot at twice by a fleeing burglar Dec. 23, 2007 -- so he recognizes the importance of the honor. Former patrolman John Fross received the bronze award at the same time, honored for his actions in stopping Scheibler's assailant.

The awards for Larson, Hancock and Hauptman will be presented July 19 during the group's annual conference, this year in Newton.

They were among 87 nominations made from departments across the state, but only 36 awards will be presented.

The awards stem from a Dec. 19 standoff at a house in the 400 block of West Fourth, involving a 53-year-old man who was armed with a rifle, a weapon he reportedly had pointed at a relative.

The standoff was complicated by rapidly falling temperatures and the onset of blizzard conditions that paralyzed much of northwest Kansas, including the city of Hays.

Weather conditions contributed to Scheibler's decision to nominate the officers.

They came up with the plan to climb up to the second floor of the residence, despite the rapidly deteriorating weather, and enter through another apartment -- all of it in full gear, weighing nearly 100 pounds when fully equipped.

"There was no way of getting up to the apartment without exposing ourselves to danger," Scheibler said of the circumstances.

Once upstairs, the three had to wait until they received word from officers on the ground to rush out and subdue the man.

Attempts to use a Taser didn't work on the man, forcing the three officers to physically wrestle the man to the ground before taking him into custody.

While he nominated the three men who went inside, Scheibler isn't discounting the work of the other members.

"I'm just as proud of the entire team," Scheibler said.