Sergeant Daniel Misiaszek
San Marcos (TX) Police Department
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Sergeant Daniel Misiaszek, of the San Marcos (TX) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for April 2004.
Daniel Misiaszek began his career as a paramedic in upstate New York working in the trauma unit of the Faxton-St. Luke Hospital in the city of Utica. After four years, he enlisted in the United States Army. After serving as an orthopedic technician at the Darnel Army Community Hospital, Dan Misiaszek applied for and was accepted into the Officer Candidate helicopter flight school, however, a military parachuting accident resulted in his medical discharge.
In 1987 the Army's loss became law enforcement's gain when Dan Misiaszek joined the San Marcos Police Department. Within three short years he was promoted to police corporal and in 1995 was handpicked to serve in the department's criminal investigation division. In October 1999 Dan was promoted to police sergeant and became the supervisor of the collision investigation team comprised of 10 police officers whose specialty is in reconstructing major accidents that involve serious bodily injury or death.
Blending his passion for scuba diving with his love of law enforcement, Sergeant Misiaszek founded the SMART (San Marcos Area Recovery Team) Diver program. SMART combines the unique skills of police officers, fire-rescue, and EMS trained personnel with the field of search and recovery diving to form a specialty team of underwater investigators who assist law enforcement agencies with underwater search, evidence recovery, and evidence documentation. In November 2000, SMART technical cave divers led by Sergeant Misiaszek located the body of missing diver who disappeared in an underwater cave in October of 1979. This recovery made 21 years after the incident brought some peace to the missing man's family.
Designated a 501(c) (3) program in 1995, SMART Divers began to hold public fund-raising activities in order to purchase much needed new and updated equipment. At one such event held over Labor Day weekend 2001, Sergeant Misiaszek, set a new world record for the longest open water scuba dive by staying underwater for more than 60 hours. The event was a huge success raising $5,000 for the team.
Yet, Dan Misiaszek's most rewarding day with SMART came on August 3, 2002 when 16-year-old Dustin Kilgore became trapped underneath the raging waters of the San Marcos River. Onlookers had not seen the boy resurface for some time and feared the worst. Sergeant Misiaszek entered the raging waters sure that the boy could not survive, but hopeful to recover his body. Miraculously, the recovery mission turned into a rescue operation when Kilgore, who had lodged himself into a compartment behind the curtain of water pouring over the dam's face, could be heard calling for help. Sergeant Misiaszek quickly retrieved an extra air tank and dove back into the rapid water. Positioning himself in front of Kilgore, the boy was able to grab hold of Sergeant Misiaszek and after some brief scuba instructions, the two men plunged back into the turbulent waters.
It took four attempts to get past the rough waters and safely to shore from where Dustin Kilgore was taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia and exhaustion. For his efforts, Sergeant Misiaszek was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Life Saving Medal, and the Medal of Honor from the San Marcos Police Department.
Sergeant Misiaszek continues his 17 year service with the San Marcos Police Department where he has over 2200 state training hours in law enforcement related studies. His certifications include Master Diver, Deep, Night, Emergency Service, Scientific, Search & Recovery, Rescue, Underwater Archeology, and full Cave. Sergeant Misiaszek is a member of the International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery Team. He and his wife, Kathy, who is also a SMART officer, and their four children reside on a small horse ranch where they enjoy motorcycle riding, hunting, canoeing, and of course, scuba diving.
Located in our nation's capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) is a nonprofit organization is dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF established the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 1991 and is now working to build a national law enforcement museum. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program, which began in 1996, recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.