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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The COPS Office is pleased to feature the September 2017 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest – the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The winning photo features an emotional reunion between Sergeant Orrlando Mayes and “Baby Michael.” Six years prior to this photo, Mayes rescued Michael from what would be the longest hostage standoff in the department’s history.
In June of 2010, the Sacramento community was rocked by news of a hostage situation involving a 16-month-old child. The 56-hour standoff involved a suspect wanted for several violent crimes in a neighboring county, who ended up in Sacramento at a relative’s house while attempting to hide from law enforcement. Eventually, law enforcement tracked him down in the home belonging to his cousin, her husband, and their two young children. While the parents were able to escape the home and a Sacramento detective was able to save the eldest of the two children, the youngest child, referred to as Baby Michael, remained in the home with the suspect. The same detective attempted to save the baby, but the suspect pulled him back inside the home. He then barricaded the windows and doors with furniture and held the child hostage for three days in what was a very dangerous and hostile situation involving gunfire.
On the third day, when the decision was made to enter the home and conduct a rescue, then-Deputy Orrlando Mayes went in to save Baby Michael. There were shots fired and the situation was very tense, but Mayes successfully retrieved the child and the suspect was ultimately shot and killed. After his rescue, Mayes rode with Baby Michael to the hospital and was amazed at how calm he was. “When I picked him up, he was just looking around. He never once cried. He just looked at me as I talked to him,” shared Mayes, now a Sergeant with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. “He never said a word. He didn’t look scared. He looked like he was very calm. Considering what all he had gone through with all of that gunfire, he was so calm… It was like he knew that he was safe. It was amazing.”
Mayes, who admits that hostage and rescue situations are very uncommon, has been involved in three in his 25-year career. This rescue, however, was very special to Mayes, who has his own children and imagined what he would expect of law enforcement had his children been held in a hostage situation.
Mayes did not expect to see Baby Michael again after the rescue, but an interesting twist of fate brought the two together. Michael’s uncle had been deployed by the U.S. Military at the time of the hostage situation. Upon hearing about the events that had taken place with his family, his interest in law enforcement peaked. Michael's uncle committed to joining public safety when he returned, and was specifically drawn to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, because of the care and concern that was shown to his family during the hostage event. He eventually joined the academy and met Mayes, who also serves as the department’s Academy Director.
When Michael’s uncle asked Mayes if he would like to meet with Michael, Mayes agreed, and Michael's uncle arranged a reunion for the two. Michael, who was seven years old, had no recollection of the events that brought him and Mayes together in 2010, but that did not stop an emotional reunion.
“It really humanized the event,” said Mayes of their reunion. “The opportunity to meet him, I thought it was great… to see him thriving made it all worth it in my head and my mind. It validated that we really did do something special. It was worth putting ourselves in harm’s way, and being shot at was worth it. He’s thriving as a young boy now.”
Mayes, who knew by the eighth grade that he wanted to be a law enforcement officer, recently received the Mark Dunakin Memorial Award for Extraordinary Achievement by the Union Institute and University. He received the award on the same day he received his degree in criminal justice management, another personal and professional goal of his since the eighth grade.
“Sgt. Mayes truly exemplifies our department’s values,” said Sgt. Nick Goncalves of the Community Relations Unit. “He is a role model for people in our department and he is a great representation for our department.”
“He truly exemplifies our motto which is ‘service with concern’,” shared Julie Prayter, the department’s photographer.
Mayes, who has dedicated his life to being a public servant, had one more goal for himself in the eighth grade: to play for the Dallas Cowboys. While he may not ever achieve that goal, he has certainly accomplished so much more in his exciting 25-year-career. As a father, mentor, and a true American hero, the Sacramento community is better because of him.
The COPS Office congratulates the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for being one of the 12 winners of the COPS Office 2017 Community Policing in Action Photo Contest and for its commitment to community policing.
Written with contributions from Sgt. Nick Goncalves, Sgt. Orrlando Mayes, and Julie Prayter. Photo taken by Julie Prayter.
*Update: As of September 1, 2017, Orrlando Mayes has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant.
1 “List of “Baby Rescued, Man Shot After Hostage Crisis in Sacramento,” Fox News U.S., published June 11, 2010, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/06/11/day-hostage-stand-sacramento-ends.html.
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