It was around lunchtime last July 22 when Rockville Police Officer Chad Bates got a call to respond for a shoplifting incident at a gas station at the corner of Rockville Pike and Dodge Street.
When Bates got there, he found the suspected thief, a woman he had talked to only about 10 minutes earlier about a separate incident, about a half-block from the gas station. He approached her.
The woman was belligerent, and the situation escalated even as he tried to calm her down, Bates said.
As she came closer, he warned her to step back, and finally the woman pulled a metal object out of a bag she was carrying.
Bates said he initially thought it was a machete, but it turned out to be a sort of metal pole or spike with a serrated edge.
He used his Taser on her and the woman fell, dropping the weapon.
The whole confrontation lasted about two minutes.
“People don’t realize how hard it is to think when stuff like that happens,” Bates said.
Your first reaction in that type of situation is just to move, he said.
He thought about drawing his gun and shooting the woman, and isn’t exactly sure why he didn’t.
“I had a split second to understand that I had a small window of opportunity to do something different,” he said.
Bates recalled the incident just before he received the Citation for Bravery for these actions at the annual Rockville Public Safety Awards presentation Wednesday at Lakewood Country Club.
The ceremony recognizes outstanding work by members of the Rockville City Police Department, Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation.
In all, 47 people were recognized for their work at the ceremony.
Among those honored were four members of the sheriff’s office who in December tracked down a woman who was believed to be suicidal.
Deputies Lindsey Swinford, Zachary Buttrey and Andrew Tucker, and Lt. Eric Runion followed several leads over a period of about 48 hours before finding the woman at a Rockville hotel, Sheriff Darren Popkin said.
They forced their way into her room and found her near death from having swallowed too many pills, he said.
The officers administered first aid until an ambulance could take her to a hospital. They received distinguished service citations Wednesday for their work.
The successes that police and fire personnel have every day aren’t always recognized or celebrated as much as they should be, Popkin said.
That’s why ceremonies such Wednesday’s are so important, he said.