Yet another Phoenix P.D. officer’s name has been added to the list of the best of the best in law enforcement. Canine handler Mike Lin was selected as one of 10 NAPO Top Cop finalists for a 2014 incident that likely saved a little girl’s life. He was honored on May 12 in Washington, D.C. (Phoenix Officer Mike Miller was also acknowledged as a Top Cops nominee for his heroic actions at the scene of Detective John Hobbs’ shooting on March 3, 2014.)
Lin has been with the Phoenix P.D. for 10 years. He chose a career in law enforcement after getting his bachelor’s degree in Asian Languages at Arizona State University — mainly, he says, because he didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk. He spent five years on the Tempe P.D. before joining the Phoenix P.D., seeking the “opportunity and excitement of a larger department.” A canine handler for the last two years, Lin says one of the constants that makes police work interesting is “the uncertainty of what your shift will bring and the challenge of dealing with it.”
One of those unpredictable incidents happened in spring of last year, leading to his recent award. On March 22, 2014, Lin was en route to a commercial burglary call near Downtown #8185 Phoenix when he noticed something unusual.
“It was around 3 a.m., and I was stopped at a red light at a small intersection in a residential neighborhood,” Lin recalls. “I observed the suspect riding a bike and holding a small child. He was holding her like a bag of groceries.”
Traveling west approaching the intersection, the suspect turned the bicycle north and almost crashed, since he was steering with one hand. Lin recalls, “What went through my head was the way he was holding the child, the time of night, the child being in her pajamas, him almost crashing. I was thinking more of welfare check at the time.”
Lin hit the emergency lights, but the man did not stop — so Lin drove in front of the bicycle and cut the man off. He then began questioning the suspect. When asked what he was doing, the suspect told Lin that he was taking the child home, but the little girl, who was crying, said she did not know him. Lin detained the man.
Disturbingly, the follow-up investigation revealed that the suspect had kidnapped the child from a nearby home and taken inappropriate photos of her before encountering Officer Lin. Although the girl was safely reunited with her family, frightening statistics show just how close the call was. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in sexually motivated kidnappings, 75% of children are murdered within the first three hours and 99% within 24 hours of the abduction. In recognition that his keen observational skills and decisive action prevented the further victimization and probable murder of the girl, Lin also received the Citizen’s Choice Award, presented to the officer or group of officers who have singularly distinguished themselves above all others, at the Top Cops ceremony.
Since the ceremony is held every year during National Police Week, in addition to being honored for his own service, Lin was able to attend the candlelight vigil and pay tribute to the thousands of officers who have died in the line of duty in the U.S. “It was my first time, and the experience is one I will remember for the rest of my life,” he says. “PLEA assisted me financially in paying for my wife and daughter’s airline tickets. Thank you to PLEA and its members! I was so grateful to be able to experience the ceremonies with my family. It was very exciting and also very somber at the same time.”
In the typically modest fashion of heroic police officers, Lin says that he feels honored for the recognition but was just doing his job: “I got lucky for being at the right place at the right time. Everyone has been very positive and encouraging. I am truly humbled by all the response from my fellow officers and citizens.” PLEA