Honors for our officers

Written by Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate March 22, 2013 05:10 pm

Members of the Police Explorers open the Tuesday night event at which 46 awards were made by seven agencies.
Members of the Police Explorers open the Tuesday night event at which 46 awards were made by seven agencies. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
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.

It was a full house at the Cultural Center for the awards ceremony. See more photos on A2 and at triplicate.com/photos.
It was a full house at the Cultural Center for the awards ceremony. See more photos on A2 and at triplicate.com/photos. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
“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.

CHP Lt. Michael Redel, left, hands Thomas Cantrell his officer of the year award.  Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
CHP Lt. Michael Redel, left, hands Thomas Cantrell his officer of the year award. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
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.

Pelican Bay State Prison Warden Greg Lewis delivers special commendation awards to his staff.
Pelican Bay State Prison Warden Greg Lewis delivers special commendation awards to his staff. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
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.

Sheriff Dean Wilson speaks as he presents awards.
Sheriff Dean Wilson speaks as he presents awards. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
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 relatives  and 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.

Del Norte Search and Rescue members being recognized.
Del Norte Search and Rescue members being recognized. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Here is a list of award recipients:

California Highway Patrol

Officer of the Year — Thomas Cantrell

Probation Department

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

Humane Society Vice President Tana Bachmann hugs the owner of a dog she helped rescue.
Humane Society Vice President Tana Bachmann hugs the owner of a dog she helped rescue. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Pelican Bay State Prison

Special Commendation Award — Sgt. William Brow, Sgt. Tanya Moore, Officer Charles Sturdevant, Officer Steffen Pettis, Officer Russ Olson.

Sheriff’s Office

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.

Police Chief Doug Plack honors Yeng Lo as officer of the year.
Police Chief Doug Plack honors Yeng Lo as officer of the year. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
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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