ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – An Arvada police officer praised for going above and beyond has been recognized with one of the attorney general’s highest honors — the Excellence in Law Enforcement Award.
The award recognizes A.J. DeAndrea for exemplary service over the course of his career, and DeAndrea’s career is — as the attorney general noted — nothing short of remarkable.
Hours after a gunman entered Platt Canyon High School in 2006 and killed 16-year-old Emily Keyes, DeAndrea met with Keyes’ father and made a promise.
“That the loss of his daughter’s life not be in vain, that we would do everything in our power to help train people to do it better,” DeAndrea said.
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DeAndrea made good on that promise by establishing what has become a national standard for police tactical response in active shooter situations, and a school safety protocol used across the country. But as Colorado Attorney General John Suthers recognized him, he insisted there were others more deserving.
“Extremely humbled, very honored,” DeAndrea said. “The things get accomplished don’t get accomplished because of me, they get accomplished because there is a lot of heavy lifting going on everywhere at this agency, at the fire department, at agencies across the country.”
But he’s done lots of heavy lifting himself over his 22 year career. In addition to Platt Canyon, DeAndrea was among the first to enter Columbine and carried two of the four people shot at an Arvada youth missionary to safety.
“Made a decision long time ago that we’re going to learn from these and we’re going to keep going forward.”
He admits that it’s not always easy.
“It’s hard to have those memories, and yet those memories help keep you focused and keep you motivated.”
He says his family — his wife and two daughters — and his police family also keep him motivated.
“Absolutely love my job and will continue to do so, continue to serve this community; this is my home.”
The Arvada Fire Department nominated him for the award. In addition to training police in virtually every state, DeAndrea has also developed firefighter rescue task forces around the country.