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PCC public safety officer honored for heroism
Photos and Story by James Hill
For Portland Community College Public Safety Officer Jeff Grider, he was just doing what came naturally. In the end, he saved a person’s life and as a result the Lake Oswego Police Department honored him with its Citizen Recognition Award at its recent awards banquet.
"I was surprised by the award," said Grider, a West Linn resident. "I couldn’t have done anything different. It was just instinct to help the guy out."
A little after 11 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2007, while driving home from the Sylvania Campus, Grider passed an older gentleman driving a motorized scooter up Kerr Parkway from Boones Ferry. Not the bike kind of scooter, but the type that elderly folks use to get around.
"This guy was riding his scooter up the road opposite of me," Grider said. "He had a small headlight and even a red brake light, but it was clear it wasn’t a good situation. Before I could turn around a Tri-Met bus went by me up the hill and I thought ‘Oh man.’"
He turned around, activated his car’s emergency flashers and called the Lake Oswego police for assistance. He helped steer the man to a safe place off the road and waited for help to arrive. If Grider hadn’t intervened, the older man could have frozen to death. That night the weather was in the lower 30s with high winds.
"He was confused. He had been visiting his girlfriend and got kicked out," Grider remembered. "He didn’t have any gloves on, but just a sweatshirt and pants. After awhile, the police officer called for a cab and got him a blanket as we waited. It was really cold. He was grateful for the hat and blanket."
Grider asked the man questions and discovered he was trying to drive his scooter home to Oregon City, but was headed toward Portland. The well-trained public safety officer waited with the older gentleman, engaging him in conversation until a wheel chair accessible cab could arrive to transport him home.
"Police Officers rely on citizens to assist us in our day-to-day work," wrote Lake Oswego Chief of Police Daniel Duncan to Grider in his award letter. "This Citizen Recognition Award is for your significant acts contributing to the enhancement of the law enforcement profession. You are to be commended for your keen observations and commitment towards the welfare of this lost gentleman."
Grider has been with the college since 2001 when he started work at the PCC Bookstore at the Sylvania Campus. He moved on to become a public safety officer at the campus in 2003. Grider said the best part of his job is helping people by assisting in getting back keys locked in a car, recovering lost-and-found items, giving directions, or providing personal escorts when it is dark outside.
So stopping to help a citizen in trouble was second nature.
"It was the thing to do; somebody was in trouble," he said. "So I stopped to help him. I’ve talked to a lot of people in different fields and they thought it was weird I stopped. Some said they might have called the police, but many said they would have just driven on by. My immediate reaction was: the guy was going to get hurt if I didn’t stop to help."