Portland Police Chief Frank Clark congratulates Officer Les Smith, who was recognized with a Heroism Award for the role he played in saving the life of Fire Capt. Chris Thompson. Contributed / Portland Downtown

The Portland Police Department and Portland Downtown earlier this month recognized an officer for heroism and named the city’s police officer and civilian of the year for 2020.

Officer Les Smith received the Heroism Award for playing a vital role in saving the life of Fire Capt. Chris Thompson during a structure fire on Peaks Island in December 2019, according to a commendation by Portland Police Chief Frank Clark.

Smith, who also serves as an EMT and firefighter, was the first to respond to the scene as the on-duty officer on Peaks Island and fought the blaze with fire extinguishers after the fire truck malfunctioned and delayed the water flow. After Thompson fell through a section of flooring that had collapsed, Smith continued to fight on each side of Thompson until the firefighter could pull himself out. Clarke said in the commendation that “Officer Smith’s continued perseverance to knock down the fire after being struck by falling debris and observing Capt. Thompson’s collapse through the floor demonstrates outstanding courage worthy of this recognition.”

Officer Nick Gowen, who was chosen as Officer of the Year, began working for the department in 2013 and serves as an officer for the FBI’s “Safe Streets” task force. Gowen previously served on multiple patrol teams and worked on the Crime Reduction Unit. He is also a defensive tactics instructor and serves on the department’s Special Response Team.

“Gowen is widely regarded by supervisors and co-workers alike as one of the department’s hardest-working and most proactive officers,” a release prepared by Portland Downtown stated. “He is also is recognized by city residents for his diligence and compassion.”

Crime Analyst Kelly Crotty was selected as Civilian of the Year. After working for Preble Street, Crotty joined the department in 2017 as the community services coordinator in the Bayside neighborhood.

In 2019, Crotty became the department’s crime analyst while still shouldering some community policing work. In 2020, in addition to her already growing list of responsibilities, she assisted the department in implementing new computer programming that will help officers in their day-to-day operations.

A banquet is traditionally held every year to recognize local residents and members of law enforcement who go above and beyond to serve the city. However, due to restrictions in place during the coronavirus pandemic, this year the police department organized a recognition week with small and socially distanced events. Department staff enjoyed meals catered by local businesses as well as video messages of appreciation from local and national leaders.