Two CI Police Officers Awarded Medals of Valor

Chief John Reid congratulates Officer Stephen Osman and Sergeant Jeff Cowgill.

By Marya Jones Barlow

When Sergeant Jeff Cowgill and Officer Stephen Osman rushed into a burning building on the CI campus earlier this year to save a man who was on fire, they said their response was “based on instinct and training.” Their colleagues in Ventura County law enforcement had another way of describing it: brave, heroic, and beyond the call of duty. 

In October, Cowgill and Osman received Medals of Valor recognizing their courage from the Peace Officers Association of Ventura County (POAVC). The law enforcement association holds the awards ceremony each year to honor acts of bravery, heroism and service by law enforcement personnel and citizens of Ventura County.

Cowgill and Osman were honored for rescuing a utility worker after an explosion at CI’s electrical substation last spring. Arriving to find the building cloaked with thick, black smoke and seeing the man inside with his upper body on fire, they ran into the substation and carried the man out to safety. He was not breathing and had no pulse, so the officers—both trained emergency medical technicians —performed CPR and used an automated external defibrillator to revive him. 

“Through the heroic efforts of Jeff and Steve, the injured man has survived and is recovering today,” said President Richard Rush. “We are exceptionally fortunate to have officers as part of our campus community who exhibit such courage and professional acumen.”

The awards ceremony also honored the man’s coworker, Gary Cowles, President of DK Electric, with the Citizen’s Medal of Merit. Before the officers arrived, Cowles worked to save the man by using a fire extinguisher and cutting burning clothes from his body.

Cowgill is a 20-year veteran of law enforcement who has served as a sergeant for CIPD since its inception. In addition to being a police EMT, he is a counselor at his church and volunteers at a homeless shelter. 

“I am honored to receive the valor award,” Cowgill said. “As a police officer, I feel blessed to be trained as an EMT and to be provided the equipment to be able to help a severely injured person. I am so thankful that the victim is doing well and able to enjoy his family.”

Osman, a former staff photographer with the Los Angeles Times and reserve deputy for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, joined CI’s police department two years ago. 

“I am accepting this award for every police officer who has trained and prepared to react in such a situation,” he said. “I thank all my instructors, training officers and colleagues for their support. It’s uncommon to be faced with this type of emergency (thankfully) in our job and it’s an honor to be recognized for saving someone’s life. Throughout my law enforcement career, I’ve been told that in a crisis one will revert back to their most basic training, which is exactly what happened with this incident. The EMT program here at CIPD prepared us for handling such a crisis.”

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