GVPD recognizes service that goes above and beyond


Every year, the Greenwood Village Police Department recognizes members of its team and the public who have been deemed to have provided exceptional service to the community. All awards originate with recommendation from peers or the public. Those are reviewed by top police department brass who decide what awards have been earned.

GV Detective Anthony Costarella (center) was recognized as the sworn Employee of the Year 2022. Also pictured, Police Chief Dustin Varney (left) Commander Joe Bradley (right), Deputy Chief Dave Oliver (in back, with head turned) and Commander Scott Jones (in back, wearing glasses)

On May 25, in conjunction with National Police Week, GVPD recognized 56 employees in its department, along with three other individuals, for actions they took that were deemed above-and-beyond. 

Unlike some law enforcement agencies, GVPD is presently fully staffed with 67 sworn officers on duty or in the process of completing their police academy training. GVPD officers’ experience level consists of one-third with 20+ years on the job, one-third with 10-20 years, and one-third with less than 10 years. Interestingly, five out of the last six officers hired at GVPD are women.

The Villager sat down with GV Deputy Police Chief Dave Oliver, a 12-year veteran, and Commander Joe Bradley, who has been with the department for 23 years, to find out about a few of the many acts of valor that led to recognition of some of the dozens of people who were honored with receiving it. 

Digital Media Specialist Douglas Kalbaugh was named the 2022 Civilian of the Year. From left to right, GV Deputy Chief Dave Oliver, Chief Dustin Varney, Douglas Kalbaugh, and Commander Scott Jones. Photos courtesy of Greenwood Village Police Department

Corporal Steve Heil was awarded the Medal of Valor, bestowed for “distinguishing actions through extraordinary heroism in the presence of great danger or at significant personal risk,” along with the Life Saving award, for multiple actions he took, including administering a life-saving tourniquet and performing CPR, including compressions, to a person whose life was in peril, until paramedics arrived, who credited Corporal Heil with saving that life. 

Officer Andy Wynder received the Life Saving award, as well as this year’s Distinguished Service award, bestowed for “gallantry rising significantly above the standard,” for saving the life of a person who was threatening to jump off an overpass and commit suicide. Even though the person in distress was physically larger than him, Officer Wynder was able to position himself in the exact location so he could get a secure hold of the person in distress and pull him to safety.

Commander Bradley told The Villager that Detective Anthony Costarella, named 2022 Officer of the Year, “has long been our go-to person when it comes to retail theft, well beyond everyday shoplifting. He has worked with (several significant GV retailers) on organized retail theft rings. He was able to connect theft suspects who were targeting our stores with (theft) cases across the metro Denver area. Detective Costarella was able to file charges that covered over $100,000 in retail theft in nine other judicial districts in addition to the 18th (where GV is located). He also assists with drug take back day, teaches in the GV Citizens Police Academy, and even defensive driving school, all of which are not directly connected to his position as a detective. Always quick to volunteer, Detective Costarella is the person we always look toward to train new detectives.” 

Chief Dustin Varney (left) congratulates Officer Andy Wynder on his being bestowed GVPD’s 2022 Distinguished Service award. Officer Wynder also received a Meritorious Unit award. Photos courtesy of Greenwood Village Police Department

Matthew Ottolenghi is the young man who earned recognition as Exceptional Citizen of the year because he “rendered valuable, courageous or heroic assistance to the Greenwood Village Police Department,” just as the criteria for the award describes. Deputy Chief Oliver told us, “Matthew saw a person who looked like totally out of place in his neighborhood, then witnessed that person hide behind some bushes. Very soon after that, police cars began to flood into the neighborhood. Matthew waved down the commanding sergeant on the scene and pointed out the location of the person who he thought was acting inappropriately. That person was subsequently arrested for several thefts and trespasses in the neighborhood. Police officers credited Mr. Ottolenghi with facilitating the arrest of the offender by flagging them down.”

Kirk Armstrong, a corrections officer in the City of Aurora Detention Center, was off-duty, driving by the Cherry Creek High School/Campus Middle School/Belleview Elementary campus, Commander Bradley told us, when he observed several School Resource Officers (SROs) talking to an elementary school student, “Who had had a really bad day and had run from school. The child had not done anything wrong and the SROs did not want to force him to return to school, but they couldn’t leave him on the street. As they were struggling to convince him to return to school voluntarily, Mr. Armstrong stopped his car and asked the SROs if they would let him try to talk to the child. They said yes and Mr. Armstrong was able to make a connection with the child, who was voluntarily back in school within 15 minutes.” The SROs nominated Mr. Armstrong for the Exceptional Citizen award.

Chief Dustin Varney (left) congratulates Officer Andy Wynder on his being bestowed GVPD’s 2022 Distinguished Service award. Officer Wynder also received a Meritorious Unit award.

The Meritorious Unit award is presented to “a group of employees who accomplish an extraordinary achievement by performing their duties in an unusually effective manner.” Deputy Chief Oliver explained, “It is usually given when we have a great outcome, usually on a criminal event, as a result of the collective teamwork of everyone involved, from dispatch to the officers to the crime scene technicians and the detectives and supervisors who all worked together and achieved an outstanding outcome as a result.”

The 2022 Meritorious Unit award was bestowed on 53 individuals, including six sergeants, seven corporals, seven detectives, 22 officers, six 911 specialists, two criminalists, an evidence technician, a digital media specialist, and even a behavioral health co-responder who teams up with officers to deal with suspected mental health situations.