OAK CREEK – The first eight police officers who responded to the Sikh Temple massacre are set to travel to Washington, DC this week to meet President Obama and receive top honors from the National Association of Police Organizations.
Many of the Oak Creek officers receiving the ‘Top Cop’ award have not spoken publicly about what happened on Aug. 5, 2012.
Officer John Finco’s wife dropped off treats that morning to celebrate his 20th anniversary with the department.
“My wife was delivering trays of food, where I met her right here,” Finco told TODAY’S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray. “We got the call that there was a disturbance at the Sikh Temple.”
Within moments, plans for a celebration were dropped.
“I left the station and went Code 3 up to the call,” Finco recalled. Code 3 means, “red lights and siren.”
Officer Finco stood near fellow Officer Sam Lenda as Lenda fired the shots that brought down the Sikh Temple shooter. It is a vivid memory.
“The way I handled it is, number one, my faith in God. That’s primary,” Finco said.
Officer Finco is one of the eight Oak Creek officers heading to Washington this week. On Saturday, the Top Cop award recipients are set to privately meet President Obama in the White House and then receive public honors outside in the Rose Garden. An awards ceremony is planned for Sunday night at a Washinghton hotel.
Sgt. Dean Kleinhans is also one of those first responders.
“I think it’s great that the entire community came together over such a terrible incident,” Kleinhans said. “Everyday it passes through. I’ve got a great support group with my family, with my son. The police department’s been great.”
The other Oak Creek officers receiving honors are Lieutenant Brian Murphy, Officer Julie Grauberger, Officer Sam Lenda, Officer Michael Schultz, Officer Derick Slamka and Officer Kelly Romel.