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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
During the holiday season, many of us open our hearts and wallets to help those less fortunate, buying gifts for children who might have none otherwise, serving food to individuals who are homeless, and donating to programs that support individuals in need.
This is true of law enforcement officers as well, not only during the holidays, but throughout the year, as they often use their own funds and free time to actively support thousands of programs that help members of their community. These run the gamut from shopping with Santa outings to athletic programs to mentoring high school students.
But, unfortunately, these stories get scant media coverage. The press likes a good story—and let’s face it, a cop helping children learn to read isn’t as much of a media attention grabber as an officer shooting. So the COPS Office publicizes the many good works and volunteer activities of local law enforcement through this publication, the Dispatch.
More importantly, we publicly honor the heroism, unwavering commitment, and the innovative thinking they display in their professional lives through the Sutin Civic Imagination Awards, which are given to teams of law enforcement and community members for collaborative partnerships that have increased public safety in their communities.
The COPS Office also actively supports the Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing, which recognizes individual state, local, and tribal sworn rank-and-file police officers, deputies, and troopers for exceptional policing efforts in three areas: Innovations in Community Policing; Criminal Investigations; and Field Operations. This year, on December 3, Attorney General William F. Barr presented these awards to 19 outstanding officers from 12 departments at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Department Building in Washington, D.C.
Below is a list of this year’s winners, all of whom we congratulate. But in doing so, I must say that choosing among so many exemplary officers was not easy. Indeed, there are tens of thousands of officers throughout our nation who go beyond the call of duty, display great courage, and provide remarkable service, but get little to no recognition.
So, in honoring this year’s winners, I praise the entire law enforcement field, and invite all of our readers to also recognize these thousands of unsung heroes in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.
Detective William Maldonado of Suffolk County Police Department (New York). A posthumous award for the criminal investigation into the violent transnational street gang MS-13, which he led while battling cancer.
Detectives Jeffrey Richards and George Duarte of the Providence Police Department (Rhode Island) for tracking down and bringing to justice a felon who kidnapped and sexually assaulted four victims.
Detectives Kenneth Sealy and Sandra Marquez of the Aventura Police Department (Florida) for solving several high–dollar amount scams and continuing to investigate multi-million dollar money laundering schemes.
Officers John Yenchak, Rachel Mynier, Evan Jurgensen, and Nicholas Kelly of Prince William County Police Department (Virginia) for running toward gunfire, taking down the shooter, and saving lives of fellow officers.
Deputy Sheriff Richard Hassna of Alameda County Sherriff’s Office (California) for the Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) Program he developed for his agency and assisting hundreds of public safety agencies around the nation their own programs.
Deputy Ross Jessop of theMissoula County Sheriff’s Office (Montana) for his unflagging perseverance in searching for and saving the life of a baby he found buried in the ground in a huge forest at 2:00 a.m.
Officers Aaron Bates and Alexander Stotik of the Cohasset Police Department (Massachusetts) for their courage and professionalism in stopping an attempted murder, subduing a violent perpetrator.
Officer Phalon Mauntel McFate of theLas Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (Nevada) for reducing violent crime by 50 percent through Project Daybreak, partnering with public and private groups to improve the quality of life.
Officer Jesse Guardiola of theTulsa Police Department (Oklahoma) for developing a comprehensive Hispanic Outreach Program to promote safety by educating law enforcement and community at large in Hispanic culture.
Officer Jonathan Plunkett of theIrving Police Department (Texas) for developing Shoptalk, a trust- building program that brings officers, barbers, and African American customers together to engage in conversations about sports, politics, and community issues.
Officer Anthony Roberson of the Providence Police Department (Rhode Island) for his many volunteer efforts and for developing collaborative programs such as the Bicycle Safety Initiative and the Handshake role model program for kids.
Officer Troy Quick of Conyers Police Department (Georgia) for his efforts as a School Resource Officer in developing relationships with gang members that have reduced problems and led several to leave the gangs.
Detective Kathleen Lucero of Isleta Tribal Police Department (New Mexico) for leading tribal youth programs, coordinating a Christmas event, spearheading a summer youth camp, and investigating crimes against children.
– Director Keith
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