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May 2005

Officers Michael Cordove and Patrick Bouhana

Denver (CO) Police Department

Officer Michael Cordova Officer Patrick Bouhana

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Officer Michael Cordova and Officer Patrick Bouhana of the Denver Police Department as its Officer of the Month for May 2005.

Sergeant Richard Seeley, of the Denver Police Department, describes Officer Michael Cordova as an officer who "has developed an incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time", and Officer Patrick Bouhana as an officer who "can be relied upon to cover any officer, anytime, anywhere.' In the case of a house fire that occurred earlier this year, one family is thankful that these two officers lived up to their reputation.

On March 4th, 2005, while on patrol, Officer Michael Cordova noticed smoke and flames spewing from a nearby home. After radioing for assistance and back-up, he raced toward the building where he encountered a man who had just exited the inferno. The man was quite distraught and screamed that his aunt and uncle were trapped in the basement. Relaying this new information to dispatch, Officer Cordova entered the burning structure, ignoring the flames and heavy smoke. Officer Cordova found an elderly gentleman struggling to carry his unconscious wife, who was confined to a wheelchair, out of the basement. Officer Cordova lifted the woman from around her waist and had her husband support her legs and feet. Officer Patrick Bouhana arrived just as Officer Cordova learned from the elderly man that there were two other nephews still inside.

Entering the house, Officer Cordova headed for the kitchen while Officer Bouhana went to the northwest corner of the home. Smoke from the fire had become very thick making it almost impossible to see; and time was running out. Officer Bouhana finally reached the northwest corner bedroom locating the two young men. Shaken and confused, the nephews could not confirm that there were no other people in the house.

With the two men safely out of the house, Officers Bouhana and Cordova attempted to re-enter the building one final time. Within minutes the structure was completely engulfed in flames and they were forced to exit just as the fire department and emergency medical personnel arrived. As the firefighters fought the blaze, Officers Bouhana and Cordova attended to the elderly couple and their nephews until the family could be transported to the hospital. Only then would the officers agree to be treated for the smoke inhalation and other injuries they had sustained. Seriously high levels of carbon monoxide were found in the officer's systems.

When the fire investigation was completed, the officers discovered just how treacherous the fire had been and how close they had come to not have survived its hidden dangers. Although the fire was not arson related and no other individuals were found in the home, the investigation determined that due to the location and burning patterns of the fire, what's known as "flashover phenomena" had occurred. In such fires temperatures reach 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, and at that temperature, fire does not burn combustible material, it consumes it. The report concluded that had the officers not gotten the family out when they did, all would have certainly perished.

For their extraordinary bravery, Officer Michael Cordova and Officer Patrick Bouhana were awarded the Denver Police Department's Medal of Honor, the highest award given only to officers who display an act of courage that clearly distinguishes gallantry beyond the call of duty. Without their courage, determination and selflessness, one family would not be alive today. However, for Officers Cordova and Bouhana, it was just another day performing a job they love.