Officer Rodney Chambers, Amtrak Police Department, Washington, DC
The National Rifle Association is proud to announce that Officer Rodney Chambers of the Amtrak Police Department has been chosen as the 2004 NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
On the evening of June 9, 2003, Officer Chambers was on patrol at Union Station -- the Washington, D.C. area's largest train station -- when he was dispatched by Amtrak Police Department's National Communications Center to investigate a report of a man with a grenade on the West Porch.
The suspect had just tried to rob a store inside Union Station by threatening to detonate the device if the clerk did not give him money. The attempt was abandoned when a group of customers entered the store.
Officer Chambers located the suspect walking away from Union Station, heading toward North Capitol Street N.E. When Officer Chambers stopped the suspect, he turned around, dropped a cloth from his hands to display part of the grenade, and pulled the pin. As the suspect started to drop the grenade, Officer Chambers made an heroic, split-second decision. He quickly grabbed the suspect's hand and squeezed it around the grenade, which prevented the device from activating.
Disregarding his own safety, Officer Chambers wrestled the grenade from the suspect's control as another officer arriving at the scene moved in and placed the suspect in custody. Chambers then moved as far away from bystanders as he could, placing him at risk but hoping to minimize casualties if the grenade he was holding exploded. He held onto the grenade for about 20 minutes while waiting for bomb disposal officers to arrive. During this time he noticed that the grenade was leaking a detergent-based substance, which led the officer to believe the device was homemade, and more unpredictable than standard military-issue grenades.
The bomb disposal officers arrived and carefully took possession of the grenade; the next morning technicians were able to determine that it was inoperable. The suspect had taken a grenade body and tried to turn it into an explosive device by packing a substance inside the grenade.
At the time of the incident, Officer Chambers had no way of knowing the condition of the grenade and without hesitation risked his own life to protect others. Because Officer Chambers was able to make the right decision under tremendously stressful conditions, there were no injuries to citizens, other safety personnel or the suspect.
As Amtrak's Chief of Patrol John O'Connor said during a press interview, "Officer Chambers ran to the danger and not away from the danger. This represents the finest in Law Enforcement."
Ron Kirkland, NRA's Director of the Law Enforcement Activities Division, added that, "Officer Chambers' courage, decisive action and split-second judgment exemplify the best qualities of an officer. He is a credit to his department and to the law enforcement profession. NRA is proud to honor him."