The Police Officers Association of Michigan annually recognizes and rewards the valiant efforts of law enforcement’s finest role models. Officer Benjamin Hovarter of the Columbia Township Police Department has been selected as the recipient of the 2023 P.O. Of The Year award for his bravery and calmness in putting down a potentially deadly threat in a high-stress situation.

Responding to Distress In Hawthorne

In the early morning of March 31st, 2022, Officer Hovarter was dispatched to a home for a disturbance, but when he knocked on the front door, there was no response. He tactfully entered the building and announced himself as the police when he came across a female occupant who directed him upstairs. When Officer Hovarter headed upstairs, he made contact with a couple, where the male was naked and in an agitated and incoherent state. 

Columbia Township POA's Benjamin Hovarter | Police Officer of the Year Awards - May 2023 | POAM
Columbia Township POA’s Benjamin Hovarter and POAM Research Analyst Al Bryzs.

He advised the man to sit down to prevent him from losing his balance and falling. However, the man failed to comply and pushed through the officer and his wife. The incoherent subject headed to the hallway toward his wife and assumed a combative position by raising his fists.

Through quick thinking, Officer Hovarter attempted to seize the man’s arm and get him back to the room, but he responded by attacking the officer. While subduing the suspect with a taser, he notified dispatch of that assault and put the suspect in protective custody on mental health grounds to avoid further harm and protect the other occupants of the home.

The Resistance Continues

Upon being tased, the male subject remained uncooperative and ran away from the officer. The taser gradually took effect, causing the subject to fall down the stairwell and onto the mid-landing area. However, the subject shook off the effects of the taser, returned to his feet, and took more swings at Officer Hovarter.

Officer Hovarter prepared his taser for a second charge to subdue the aggressor, but he had already darted down the stairs and into the kitchen. He pursued the subject into the kitchen and saw him holding onto a stuffed animal while muttering incoherently. The man attempted to attack him once more before heading out of the front door and repeatedly continuing to assault him with whatever objects he could use. After minutes of trying to control the situation, the office was cornered outside near a body of water, unable to retreat. 

However, the man refused to comply with calls of order, and Officer Hovarter discharged his weapon to stop the immediate and potentially deadly threat as he closed in. Thankfully, the weapon fell safely between the officer and the subject, narrowly avoiding further harm. Backup officers soon supported Officer Hovarter, who attempted to revive and secure the suspect.

Tact And Selflessness In The Face Of Adversity

Officer Hovarter’s selflessness in the high-stress situation allowed for a calm and collected response to ending a potentially deadly threat to his safety and the surrounding community. 

Despite being in immediate danger, Hovarter maintained communications with dispatch and updated the force, resulting in a swift and strategic response. For your courage and professionalism, the Police Officers Association of Michigan awards you, Benjamin Hovarter, the 2023 Police Officer of The Year award.

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