Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

During what Sheriff Erik Apperson promised will be an annual event as long as he is sheriff, awards, certificates, ribbons and medals were presented Thursday to DNSO employees in the Elk Valley Rancheria Community Center.

Apperson offered an apology to the department.

“I have failed in part as your sheriff as I have failed to recognize so much of the good work that has been done by the people that make up the DNSO team,” he said. “I want to be clear about that and I offer no excuses.”

Apperson followed with a promise to correct it, adding that secured boxes are in place that will allow staff and community members to nominate, praise or recommend department members for recognition.

“I will also work with (technical staff) to develop and internet based portal specifically designed to commend DNSO staff,” he said. “A committee to review positive employee performance has been established and will meet monthly, with recommendations to be prepared quarterly.”

After taking a moment of silence to recognize the 137 officers nationally who have lost their lives this year, Apperson acknowledged the skyrocketing numbers of officers who take their own lives, calling for an end to the stigmas around mental health and well-being.

He said a goal of the ceremony is to get “caught up” on the formal presentations. He noted that one sergeant received his Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) certificate in 1985.

“We are playing catch up here and with all of the great work being done, we have a long ways to go,” he said. “A goal is to be caught up historically, prior to next year so we may only need to focus on a year at a time.”

The Awards

DNSO Correctional Officers who achieved the grade of Correctional Officer II, successfully completed a Correctional Officer Academy and PC 832 Firearms Arrest training were Correctional Officer Jessica Corona, Deputy Stefanie Gulick, Deputy Kyle Stevens, Correctional Officer Vernon McCullough, Correctional Officer Kaleb McIntire, Correctional Officer Justin Pearcey, Correctional Sgt. Gary Potter and Correctional Officer James Sampier.

Advanced Correctional Officers are DNSO Correctional Officers who achieved the grade of Correctional Officer III and had no less than five years of service with the DNSO. Sgt. Gary Potter achieved that certification.

The Correctional Officer of the Year award was given to Correctional Officer Jessica Corona and Correctional Officer James Sampier.

Bailiffs who has served the DNSO as a Bailiff for no less than one year were Deputy Neal Oilar, Deputy Nathan Perrando, and Deputy Kyle Stevens

Sgt. Gene McManus was recognized as Bailiff Supervisor as he has served the DNSO as a Bailiff Supervisor for no less than one year.

Marine Patrol Awards were presented to Deputy Enrique Ortega, Sgt. Devin Perry and Sgt. Daniel Schneck.

The Field Training Officer Award is given to an individual that has been appointed by the DNSO, attended FTO training and has participated in the training of no less than three trainees.They were Deputy Enrique Ortega, Deputy Aaron Pettis, Sgt. Devin Perry and Sgt. Daniel Schneck.

Field Training Sergeants Devin Perry and Sgt. Daniel Schneck have satisfied the prerequisites and have been appointed as the supervisor in charge of the current FTO program.

The Military Service award is given in recognition of service within the U.S. military. Apperson asked all active members of the military to stand and be recognized along with Deputy Joseph Aguirre, Deputy Taylor Cervantez, Deputy Stefanie Gulick, Correctional Officer Michael McIntire and Deputy Reserve Wade Owen.

Recognized for receiving an associate’s degree from an accredited college was Deputy Aaron Pettis.

Personnel who achieved a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college were Deputy John Gale and Deputy Stefanie Gulick

Awarded for receipt of an Intermediate Certificate issued by California POST were Sgt. Thomas Burke, Sgt. Daniel Schneck, and Deputy Jeff Dickson.

The POST Award was for receipt of an Advanced Certificate issued by California POST was given to Sgt. Thomas Burke.

Awarded to an individual that has been appointed a specific instructor who has managed no less than three agency approved trainings on that subject. Deputy Jeff Dickson, was given the award for being a Taser Instructor.

Safe Driving Awards were given to an individual those who demonstrated safe driving for no less than three calendar years. Deputy Jerry Abasolo, Deputy Joseph Aguirre, Sgt. Thomas Burke, Sgt. Devin Perry, Deputy Jeff Dickson, Deputy Neal Oilar and Deputy Enrique Ortega were given the award.

Good Conduct Awards were presented for three consecutive years of honorable and faithful service to Deputy Jerry Abasolo, Deputy Joseph Aguirre, Sgt. Thomas Burke, C.O. Jessica Corona, Deputy Jeff Dickson, Deputy Stephanie Gulick

Deputy Neal Oilar, Deputy Enrique Ortega, C.O. Justin Pearcey, Deputy Nathan Perrando, Sgt. Devin Perry, Deputy Aaron Pettis, Correctional Sgt. Gary Potter, C.O. James Sampier, Sgt. Daniel Schneck and Deputy Kyle Stevens.

Apperson also recognized Reserve Deputy Wade Owen, Reserve Deputy Daniel Gongora, Reserve Deputy Rory Johnson, Reserve Deputy Thorin McCovey, (Former) Reserve Deputy Glenn Kelley, (Former) Reserve Deputy Justin Gill for their service to their communities.

Personalized ammo cans were created for commanders and sergeant Unit Leaders with their name, rank and DNSO insignia on it. Commander William “Bill” Steven, Commander Grant Henderson, Sgt. Richard Griffin, Sgt. Thomas Burke, Sgt. Gary Potter, Sgt. Trinity Williams, Sgt. Devin Perry, Sgt. Ed Fleshman, Sgt. Gene McManus, Sgt. Daniel Schneck, Dispatch Supervisor Thomas Betlejewski and Kitchen Supervisor Manuel Martinho were given the personalized containers

Meritorious Conduct Awards were given to those whose actions deserve to be commended for an outstanding act during the performance of their duties.

Recipients were Sgt. Richard Griffin, Deputy Jerrin Gill, Dispatcher Makenzy Cervantez

Dispatch Sup. Tom Betlejewski and Dispatcher Meagan Stevens.

Criminal Investigation Award were presented to Sgt. Richard Griffin, Sgt. Daniel Schneck, Deputy Sarah Asbury and Deputy Gill for recognition of solving an extensive, non-routine and complex investigation leading to the clear identification of a suspect or suspects.

Merit Awards for Excellent Arrest were given to Sgt. Gene McManus, Sgt. Daniel Schneck, Deputy Sarah Asbury for their part in locating and arresting an arsonist in the Gasquet area last month.

Unit Citations are similar to the Meritorious Conduct Awards, except that the performance was conducted in a dangerous or highly challenging mission.

Deputy Enrique Ortega, Deputy Travis Jolley, Sgt. Gene McManus, Sgt. Ed Fleshman

Sgt. Richard Griffin, Cmdr. Bill Steven, Deputy Reserve Rory Johnson, Deputy Reserve Wade Owen, Deputy Neal Oilar., Dispatcher Makenzy Cervantez and Dispatcher Thomas Betlejewski were given Unit Citations for their part in arresting a fugitive following a chase and standoff at the Crescent Beach Motel last month.

Awards of Heroism were given for recognition of sustained superior performance while under threat of physical attack, an individual act of courage or exceptional performance at the risk of personal safety. They were presented to Steven, Sgt. Daniel Schneck, Deputy Sarah Asbury, and Deputy Aaron Pettis.

The Purple Heart is awarded for wounds suffered in the line of duty and differs from the above decorations in that an individual is not recommended for the decoration, but is entitled to it. Deputy Joseph Aguirre and Deputy Neal Oilar were presented Purple Heart Awards to a standing ovation.

The Sheriffs Award was given in recognition of meritorious service, and went to Sgt. Thomas Burke for 39 Years of service in law enforcement, Sgt. Gene McManus 31 years of service, and Commander Bill Steven for 30 years of service.

Silver Star of Gallantry Awards were given for gallantry in action to have taken place while engaged in personal combat with an armed adversary under circumstances of imminent personal hazard to life. Deputy Joseph Aguirre, Deputy Neal Oilar and Sgt. Richard Griffin.

Apperson recognized members of the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team for locating missing hikers near Devil’s Punchbowl in 2016, for their voluntary assistance on the Camp Fire in Paradise, and countless other missions, training. Members were given the Life Saving and Heroism Award.

Apperson lastly recognizing Sheriff’s Secretary Diana Stanley, essentially saying the department could not operate as well without her help.

“I’m sorry but I have no certificate for you but if you can print one out, I’ll be more than happy to sign it,” he joked.

He concluded with the news that the department will soon be starting a chaplain’s program with founding members Bill Paquette, John Hayden and Darlene Breazeal.