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Fullerton PD celebrates its finest, as well as residents who stepped up to help community

Fullerton PD celebrates its finest, as well as residents who stepped up to help community

Fullerton PD celebrates its finest, as well as residents who stepped up to help community

By Lou Ponsi

Close to 500 people packed the Fullerton Community Center on Thursday, June 2 as Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes recognized FPD employees who saved lives — both on and off the job.

The chief also honored employees and everyday citizens who contributed time and resources to make the department better equipped to serve the community.

The city’s top cop also singled out officers who’ve earned promotions and welcomed newly sworn officers, civilians and professional staff.

“The challenge we had with recognizing individual efforts at an awards ceremony like this, is that each and every day, our personnel do amazing things to make our community better,” Hughes said. “Our police department is in a really strong position for the present challenges and those to come in the future.”

Here are some highlights:

  • Newly sworn officers were introduced. The list includes Christopher Chiu, Matthew Kalscheuer, Marcus Saenz, Marco Camargo, Jeffrey Beaty, Danielle Riedl, Victoria Thayer and Randall Brayley.

—  Officers who were promoted to corporal were Daniel Diaz Jr., Cynthia Hines and Kyle Baas.


--- A Community Member of Distinction award went to social worker Hector Varela, a mental health specialist who has partnered with the FPD’s homeless liaison officers since 2012, providing a variety of services to the homeless.


— Chief’s Award of Excellence went to Fran Mueller, who donated time to the department’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program along with her late husband Bruce. The couple also donated the funds to purchase a K9, who was named Mueller in Bruce’s honor.

  • Certificate of Commendation, given to FPD employees who perform a single humanitarian task that goes beyond the written job description, went to Officer Hazel Rios, who donated her bone marrow to a child who was in need of a transplant. Rios endured a painful procedure to harvest the bone marrow, which was transplanted into the child, who now is recovering.

— Certificates of Commendation also went to parking control officers Toni Alsabbagh andRenee Herrera who were involved with a street sweeping operation in November 2015 when they saw a man and woman arguing outside a parked vehicle. The man drew a gun and fired into a vehicle through the passenger side window. Another man exited the vehicle and began running away and was shot by the first man. The shooter then appeared as though he was going to shoot the woman, but when he looked up and noticed the city’s parking control vehicle with its amber lights flashing. He turned the gun on himself and shot himself, dying at the scene.

— Certificates of Commendation also went to dispatchers Cesar Navarro and Marnie Rodriguez, for calmness and efficiency they displayed stemming from a 911 call in June 2013 from a woman reporting that a male employee was assaulting a female business owner. Rodriguez entered a priority one call for service and remained on   the line with the caller.

Navarro worked with Rodriquez to garner more information on the location and the suspect. Once on the scene, officers learned that the suspect had fled, but not before making threats to kill the business owner and a female employee.

Rodriquez ran a query on the suspect for registered firearms and discovered that he had a firearm registered in his name. The suspect returned to the scene armed with   a firearm and a fatal officer-involved shooting occurred. Rodriquez’s initiative to check the suspect’s background, along with Navarro’s speed in developing and relaying critical information in a calm and succinct manner, were crucial for the   officers on scene, Sgt. Kathryn Hamel said.


— A Medal of Merit, awarded for extraordinary performance of duties that brings significant recognition to the department, went to Cpl. Joel Craft. Craft, along with officers from he Buena Park PD, OC Probation and the DA’s Office, came up with the idea of for the Adam Kennedy Baseball Camp as part of the OC Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (GRIP). Twenty boys from Fullerton and 20 from Buena Park participated in the camp.

 — A Distinguished Service Medal, awarded to an FPD employee who performs exceptional service, on or off duty, contributing to the betterment of the community, went to Officer Eric Franke, who received the honor for his key role in the FPD’s Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program, which has had an impact well beyond Fullerton. Franke is considered an expert on all aspects of DRE training and has given his testimony and opinion to several agencies in cases involving sexual assault stemming from drug intoxication.

— A Lifesaving Award went to Sgt. Craig Odom, who was picking up lunch at a restaurant when he spotted a 16-month old boy choking on food. The sergeant grabbed the boy and immediately performed the Heimlich maneuver, successfully dislodging the food stuck in the boy’s throat.

— Lifesaving awards also went to Cpl. Daniel Solorio and Officer David Crabtree. On Aug. 3, 2014, Crabtree and Solorio were responding to a domestic violence call when they encountered a woman bleeding from her head. The woman told the officers that her 8-week-old infant was being held by suspect Bryant Aquino, who then exited the apartment. He was holding the infant and he began walking quickly toward a stairway. Aquino dangled the infant over the second-story stairway railing and yelled, “I want to kill him.” Both officers wrapped their arms around Aquino, saving the infant.

— Medal of Bravery awards went to Cpl. Jose Torres and Cpl. Mike Bova. On June 12, 2013, Torres and Bova responded to a disturbance at a business on East Valencia Avenue, where a disgruntled employee had assaulted his boss and fled the location. While the officers were talking with employees in the parking lot of the business, the suspect returned. He began walking toward the employees when the officers ordered the man to stop. He drew a handgun. Torres quickly shielded CSI Letty Ramirez and rushed her to safety behind a parked vehicle. An officer-involved shooting occurred and the suspect died at the scene.