The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has named Officer Nathaniel Schaffer, of the Jamestown (RI) Police Department, as the recipient of its Officer of the Month Award for December 2018.
On December 6, 2018, rookie Police Officer Nathaniel Schaffer was working an extra patrol shift when a call came in at 1 am about a man who had jumped into to the frigid waters of the Narragansett Bay and was unable to get out.
Officer Schaffer arrived first on the scene and was soon joined by another officer, but they were unable to convince the man in the water to swim to a nearby ladder. The man was also unable to grab the flotation device that Officer Schaffer threw to him. Soon, the man became unresponsive and the officers knew they would have to act quickly.
As the other officer went to retrieve another flotation device, Officer Schaffer removed his shoes, jacket and vest before diving into the freezing water. The officer was able to grab the man but realized he would not be able to lift the worsening man up the six-foot ledge to waiting first responders.
Despite the cold water taking its toll, Officer Schaffer knew he had to swim the 100 feet to a nearby dock, where the first responders were able to meet him. Both the officer and the victim were taken to a hospital for treatment for hypothermia. They recovered and were released.
“I am very proud of Officer Schaffer for the action he took in placing his own life at risk in order to save another,” said Jamestown Chief Edward Mello. “He is a tremendous officer and fine example of what we should expect in our police officers.”
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.
Officer Nathaniel Schaffer, along with the other Officer of the Month Award recipients for 2018, will be honored at a special awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in 2019.