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March 2014

Officers Ratko Aleksis and Stephen Neff

Tempe (AZ) Police Department

 Left to right: Officer Stephen Neff and Officer Ratko Aleksis

Washington, DC – The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced the selection of Officers Ratko Aleksis and Stephen Neff, of the Tempe (AZ) Police Department as the recipients of its Officer of the Month Award for March 2014.

On evening of November 17, 2013, Officers Aleksis and Neff responded to a call of shots fired in Tempe, Arizona; a Phoenix suburb. As the first officers to arrive on scene, they immediately directed bystanders to safe locations and then set out to pinpoint the exact site of the shooting and the location of any victims. One bystander informed the officers that the shooting had taken place in the street, and the victim was inside one the nearby residences and appeared to be bleeding profusely.

Not knowing the shooter location, Officers Aleksis and Neff used extreme caution as they entered the home indicated.  They began clearing the residence until they reached the victim bleeding heavily from a gunshot wound to the thigh.

The victim had attempted to use his belt as a tourniquet, but Officer Neff found it was insufficient to stop the bleeding.  He removed the belt and began to treat the victim for shock. Meanwhile, Officer Aleksis used trauma bandages he carried to apply a tourniquet in an attempt to ease the victim’s blood loss.  Concerned that the shooter might be hiding in the residence, Officer Aleksis provided tactical protection by keeping his firearm directed into the rest of the house as Officer Neff treated the victim.  Additionally, Officer Aleksis kept paramedics, stationed outside the residence, updated by radio.

When additional officers arrived on the scene, Officer Aleksis helped clear the remainder of the house to ensure the suspect was not present.  Approximately 10 minutes passed from the time the victim was found until the house was clear and paramedics could enter the home. Later that evening, a police helicopter spotted the suspect hiding in a nearby backyard, where he was subsequently arrested.  It was discovered that the gunshot victim had attempted to intervene in a domestic dispute and was subsequently charged by the suspect who fired a single shot into the victim’s leg.

Officer Aleksis, a former Licensed Practical Nurse and Officer Neff, a former Army Ranger, each carry trauma kits on the job. These items were essential in providing emergency medical support and stabilization of the victim’s arterial bleeding. Both officers had less than 18 months experience at the Tempe Police Department at the time of this incident and were assigned to separate patrol squads.

In his letter to the Tempe Police Department, Deputy Fire Chief Gary S. Ells stated “It is the combined opinion of fire department personnel, that the actions taken by Officer Aleksis and Officer Neff were instrumental in reducing the victim’s blood loss and  keeping him alive until paramedics could render advanced life support and transport the victim to the nearest trauma center.”

Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Award Program began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.

Officers Aleksis and Neff along with the other Officer of the Month Award winners for 2014, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2015, during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s annual calendar.

Police Unity Tour The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund's Officer of the Month Program.