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Honor of wearing a badge underscored at Fullerton PD Promotions, Awards Ceremony

Honor of wearing a badge underscored at Fullerton PD Promotions, Awards Ceremony

By Greg Hardesty-Behind the Badge

Dan Hughes held up a police badge.

“It’s really important that you understand what a privilege it is to wear a badge,” the Fullerton police chief said in brief remarks at the start of the Fullerton PD Promotions and Awards Ceremony on Thursday, June 4.

“This badge represents integrity, honor, character, courage and loyalty,” Hughes told the crowd inside the Fullerton Community Center Grand Hall.

“But above all these things,” Hughes said, “this badge represents, and is a symbol of, public trust and confidence. It represents a tremendous amount of authority, but with that authority comes a responsibility that we always conduct ourselves in an appropriate manner.

“If you accept this badge, promise that you never compromise what this badge represents. Be proud of being a police officer, be proud of this department and be proud of this profession.”

Before the new hires, promotions and awards were announced, Hughes thanked family members in the audience.

“We know it’s not always easy being in a relationship with some of us in law enforcement with the holidays and weekends we have to work, but it is your love and support, and most important your patience, that allows our employees to do the incredible job they do in our community,” Hughes said.

The chief then noted that last year in the U.S., 124 police officers were killed in the line of duty. So far this year, 54 more officers made the ultimate sacrifice carrying out what Hughes called the “noble high calling” of police work.

“If you are a member of this police department, I just want you to know we are so appreciative of what you do,” Hughes said. “We value what we do. We don’t tell you that enough, and I apologize for that.”

And then, it was on to the awards and recognition of promotions and new hires:

NEW CADETS

Taylor Henderson

Kyle Bishop

Jonathan Alvaradejo

Jeremy Garcia

Elizabeth Gutierrez

Kevin Paxtor

Brady Jones

Kevin Piper

NEW CHAPLAIN

Richard Miller, pastor at Crosspoint Friends Church in Fullerton

NEW RECORDS CLERK

Angelica Garcia

NEW RSVP

Dale Flournoy

NEW PARKING CONTROL AIDE

Grant Miles

NEW RECORDS SPECIALIST

Aimee Cullen

NEW JAILER

Rene Valdes, Jr.

NEW DISPATCHERS

Erika Tretsven

Sue Downing (part time, prior full time)

NEW POLICE OFFICERS

Michael Halverson

Justin Melendez

Jonathan Ferrell

Austin Grogan

Bunnath Phot

Joseph Gonzales

Long Phan

Chad Keen

PROMOTIONS TO CORPORAL

Luis Garcia

Veronica Gardea

Gary Sirin

Ginny Johnson

Jonathan Miller

James Talbot

Stephen Bailor

Ryan O’Neil

PROMOTIONS TO SERGEANT

Jon Radus

John Ema

Chris Wren

Jose Arana

Tim Kandler

PROMOTIONS TO LIEUTENANT

Mike Chocek

Rhonda Cleggett

Thomas “Oli” Oliveras

PROMOTIONS TO CAPTAIN

John Siko

Scott Rudisil

SERVICE AWARDS

Chief’s Certificate of Commendation

This award is given to those employees who distinguish themselves by performing their assigned tasks in a manner above and beyond the written job description; demonstrating the highest standards of police conduct or humanitarianism in a single operation, incident or investigation.

Lt. Thomas Oliveras, Cpl. David Becerra, Cpl. Jonathan Miller and Officer Kevin Kirkreit — On May 12, 2012, Officer Kirkreit attempted to stop a vehicle for vehicle code violations. The vehicle fled the scene and a pursuit ensued. The suspect’s vehicle promptly crashed into the flood control channel at the corner of Gilbert and Malvern.

As responding units arrived, a suspect exited the vehicle in the flood control channel and quickly hid underneath the Gilbert overpass. The suspect then ran into a tunnel adjacent to the flood control channel and within minutes, he emerged with a handgun, and began firing at the officers.

Officer Kirkreit, then Sgt. Oliveras, Corp. Becerra, Officer Rodriguez and Officer Miller returned fire, striking the suspect. The suspect was mortally wounded and was pronounced dead at the scene. Unbeknownst to officers on scene, a second suspect had secreted himself inside the same tunnel and was hiding from officers. The second suspect was taken into custody without incident.

The two suspects were known La Habra gang members who had been involved in a shooting in La Habra prior to Officer Kirkreit attempting to stop their vehicle.

This incident, which began as a vehicle pursuit, evolved from a life-saving operation once the occupied vehicle crashed into the flood channel and then into a deadly gun battle as officers were attempting to rescue the occupants of the vehicle following crash.

These officers demonstrated tremendous restraint, courage and professionalism in the face of great danger.

Corp. Jim Talbot — In mid-January 2015, Chief Dan Hughes received a personnel complaint about a contact that had been recorded on a recently issued Body Worn Camera. Chief Hughes reviewed the video footage and was able to determine that not only did the complainant not have a claim, but in fact he believed that the officer acted so professionally and reasonably that a commendation was warranted for his handling of the incident, his professionalism and his restraint.

On Jan. 19, 2015, then Officer Talbot was dispatched to the 2300 block of Iris Court regarding vandalism in progress. Officer Talbot located a male who matched the description of the suspect given by the reporting party. Officer Talbot attempted to detain the male — however, he refused to comply and began to walk away.

Officer Talbot attempted to detain the male by physically restraining him with his hands. The male broke free of Officer Talbot’s grasp and began to walk away, again not listening to verbal commands to stop.

As the subject broke free, he concealed his hands in his waistband as if attempting to arm himself with a weapon. Officer Talbot deployed his Taser and the subject was taken into custody.

Officer Talbot demonstrated incredible restraint and utilized minimal force during this encounter.

Medal of Merit

Sgt. John Ema — The Medal of Merit is awarded for extraordinary performance of duties that brings significant status or recognition to the department. In 2013, then-Corp. John Ema had the idea to create a peer support program at Fullerton PD. Corp. Ema conducted research, contacted other peer support providers and began attending regular meetings of peer support coordinators countywide.

Corp. Ema learned that peer support programs were being created countywide to address the concerns over the lack of mental health resources for first responders. He took the information he gathered and worked it into a viable framework for what is now the FPD Peer Support Program.

The FPD peer support team members meet regularly, train and confer with each other to seek out best practices for supporting FPD personnel. Corp. Ema is deserving of the Medal of Merit for his time, commitment and dedication to the well being of others.

Life Saving

Corp. Mike Bova — On June 11, 2014, Officers Frank Nguyen and Josh Manes were dispatched Code 3 (lights and sirens) to 2210 Domingo Road for a call of a 1-year-old baby who had fallen in the pool and was not breathing. Corp. Bova, who was on an unrelated call at St. Jude, heard the call go out and realized how far the other two officers were from Domingo Road. He quickly cleared his call at the hospital and responded to the call for help.

Corp. Bova arrived first and began chest compressions to the baby who had since turned blue. After three to four minutes, the fire department arrived and immediately transported the baby to St. Jude Hospital. Corp. Bova, Officer Nguyen and Officer Manes worked together to block intersections for the ambulance to expedite the transportation. The baby regained a pulse at St. Jude, and after being stabilized was transported to CHOC Children’s. The ER doctor at St. Jude said the quick response to the hospital most likely saved the child’s life. This is Corp. Bova’s second life-saving award.

Sgt. Craig Odom and Officer Jae Song — on Sept. 12, 2014, a citizen in the area of Harbor and Whiting hailed Officer Jae Song. The reporting party was concerned about his coworker, who was despondent, had taken pills and had made suicidal statements to him.

Officer Song and Sgt. Odom responded to her apartment in Anaheim, and after receiving no answer at the front door, they walked to the side of the apartment. Officer Song saw through a bedroom window, a female apparently unconscious on her bed. Believing she was in need of immediate assistance, Officer Song made entry by climbing through the window.

Upon checking her vitals, they noted she was not breathing. The two immediately began CPR for three cycles, after which time she regained consciousness. The paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and transported her to a local hospital for further treatment.

Officer Song’s and Sgt. Odom’s efforts in locating the victim and administering CPR resulted in saving this young woman’s life. This is the second life-saving award for Sgt. Odom.

Medal of Bravery

Corp. Jonathan Miller and Officer Kyle Baas — This medal is awarded to employees who are involved in an act of bravery that may have been life threatening. The act was above and beyond the call of duty. This also includes any act of courage in which the recipient exposes himself or herself to hazardous conditions while displaying courage and devotion to duty while using excellent judgment in accomplishing their mission.

On Aug. 28, 2012, Corp. H. Garcia and Officer Wright attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle on the westbound 91 Freeway at Brookhurst Street. A vehicle pursuit that lasted approximately 17 minutes and covered a distance of nearly 21 miles quickly ended in the 17200 block of Palo Verde in Bellflower.

The suspect entered the cul-de-sac street and turned around. Upon reaching the end of the street, the suspect turned and proceeded southbound, driving head on with Officer Miller’s police vehicle. Officer Miller attempted to avert the collision. The suspect collided with Officer Miller’s vehicle, causing him to careen into a Southern California Edison power pole. The suspect’s vehicle then hit a parked truck, rolled and returned upright onto its wheels.

Both Officer Baas and Officer Miller exited their vehicles and moved up on foot to make contact with the suspect. Each officer had their weapons at the ready while giving verbal commands for the suspect to stop and exit his vehicle. The suspect disregarded the commands and drove northbound back to the dead end of the cul de sac.

The suspect then drove his vehicle up a curb, over the sidewalk, past metal barricades, and up an embankment adjacent to the 91 Freeway. The suspect’s vehicle became entangled in the fencing. Believing that the suspect was going to flee on foot, additional FPD officers approached the driver’s side of the vehicle.

The suspect then accelerated his vehicle in reverse toward officers, who were on foot approaching. In the lawful defense of self and defense of others, Officer Baas and Officer Miller fired their handguns, striking the suspect.

FPD personnel began immediate life-saving measures on the suspect; however, he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Because of their actions that night and their courageous calm in spite of great danger, Officer Baas and Officer Miller are deserving of the Medal of Bravery.

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