Local law enforcement officers were honored for their efforts and services to the community Tuesday night in front of a crowd of more than 200 people.
The Law Enforcement Administrators of Del Norte County hosted the annual ceremony, and 46 awards were handed out by seven agencies.
The late sheriff's Deputy Harold Esparza was the first person to be recognized and was given two awards in memoriam: a service award by Sheriff Dean Wilson and a lifetime achievement award from District Attorney Jon Alexander.
Esparza became a sheriff's deputy in 1994 and worked in various capacities as a jail correctional officer, D.A.R.E officer and a bailiff until his death last year. He was also a volunteer for the Del Norte Search and Rescue Team for 12 years and a volunteer firefighter for the Crescent Fire Protection District for 15 years.
"He was beloved by all of us," said Wilson, fighting back tears. "He was a very gentle giant."
Crescent City Police Chief Doug Plack honored Yeng Lo with the officer of the year award for his commitment to the community, dependability and courtesy.
"This individual is both highly dependable and probably one of the most courteous officers I have ever encountered," said Plack. "I believe both of those qualities are essential to the development and overall professional image of a modern day and progressive police officer."
Lo is also known for his smile, Plack said.
"Officer Lo is always smiling," said Plack. "He smiles when he's happy, he smiles when he's frustrated, he smiles when he's tired."
Plack drew on an incident Lo helped handle on Harding Avenue last year.
Lo responded with other officers, including Sgt. Erik Apperson, to a call about a man in his underwear and boots who was shouting at passing vehicles after fleeing from Sutter Coast Hospital, Plack said.
When the man was approached, he became combative and struck Lo in the forehead - leaving a baseball-sized knot - before he was subdued, Plack said.
After the arrest, Apperson told Plack what happened and said Lo never lost his composure, the chief said.
"The most impressive part, according to Sgt. Apperson, was the fact that Officer Lo never stopped smiling," said Plack.
And, indeed, Lo smiled throughout Plack's speech.
Earning the sheriff's deputy of the year award was Richard Donaldson, who has worked significantly to reduce burglaries in the county, Wilson said.
Donaldson responded to 491 calls in 2012, made 201 arrests and worked on 261 cases, Wilson said.
Sheriff's Deputy Seth Cimino recognized fellow Deputy Richard Griffin for his nomination for the Alfred E. Stewart Award from the California Narcotic Officers' Association- Griffin was one of 24 nominees out of a pool of 99,000 officers in the state, Cimino said.
"He's a wonderful partner of mine and a better friend," said Cimino.
Alexander named Deputy DA Annamarie Padilla prosecutor of the year.
"(She's) never ever one to dodge a jury trial," said Alexander, adding that she led the office last year with 10 trials.
Del Norte County Search and Rescue Team Coordinator Terry McNamara honored David Bree as member of the year. Bree has been dedicated to the team and constantly runs training programs, said McNamara, who also presented Bree with an awarded given by Cal EMA for his rescue of a woman who had jumped off Preston Island in January, McNamara said.
Bree fought the frigid waters, navigated past rocks and finally got the woman, who was being uncooperative, and swam her back to shore, McNamara said.
Throughout the ceremony, various speakers including Wilson and LEADN President Bill Steven - a commander in the Sheriff's Office - also recognized relativesand friends who support the officers.
"We would like to thank you for standing up, enduring and supporting the life of a law enforcement officer," said Wilson.
Here is a list of award recipients:
California Highway Patrol
Officer of the Year - Thomas Cantrell
Officer of the Year - Kalia Lee
Technician of the Year - Ramsey Williamson
Bar-O Boy's Ranch Employee of the Year - Murial Kaye
Juvenile Hall Supervisor of the Year - Emily Echevarria
Pelican Bay State Prison
Special Commendation Award - Sgt. William Brow, Sgt. Tanya Moore, Officer Charles Sturdevant, Officer Steffen Pettis, Officer Russ Olson.
Deputy of the Year - Richard Donaldson
Correctional Officer of the Year - Shawn Ratnour
Citizen of the Year - Amanda Chadwick
Service Award - Harold Esparza
Special Recgonition - Reserve Deputy Rory Johnson, Reserve Deputy Danny Gongora, Donald Roth, Sgt. Bill Fischer, Reserve Deputy Kurt Cooke.
Search and Rescue
Lifetime Achievement Award - Dale Watson
Member of the Year - David Bree
District Attorney's Office
Lifetime Achievement Award - Harold Esparza
Prosecutor of the Year - Annamarie Padilla
Employee of the Year - A.C. Field
Outstanding Community Service - Pelican Bay Transportation Team, Dave Mason, Luke Fadem, Joni Forscht, Karen Phillips, Suzie Dooley, Judge Abby Abinanti, Teri McCune-Oostra, Tana Bachmann
Crescent City Police Department
Officer of the Year - Yeng Lo
Volunteer of the Year - Diana Landay
Special Recognition Award - Officer Jennifer Owen
Police Chief Commendation - Officer Joseph Sullivan, Sarah Asbury
Community Recognition Award - Tom Kinney, Elk Valley Rancheria, Tobacco Use Prevention Program, Rural Human Services
Explorer of the Year - Capt. Jon Davis, Lt. Kayleah Davis, Lt. Jake Beirend
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