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Police teach record group lesson in character, respect

Throughout Anaheim this month, thousands of children wearing caps and gowns will receive diplomas for their achievements in math, English and science.1000906_586437071376438_1356337695_n

At the Anaheim Convention Center last week, more than 1000 residents gathered for a graduation ceremony of a different kind.

The 309 Anaheim Police Department’s Jr. Cadet program graduates, ages 9-12, wore black and red T-shirts with the message “Respect given is respect earned.”  Their classroom was outdoors, and the tests involved running, push-ups and sit-ups. The subjects they mastered: integrity, respect, character and personal safety.

To graduate, the children endured 14 weeks of strenuous exercise and officers in their faces when they didn’t follow instructions. As part of a lesson in respect, children visited the Riverside National Cemetery and placed 1,200 American flags on the gravesites of soldiers killed in action.

It was the more than double the largest graduating class in the program’s nine-year history. Run by the police department’s Cops4Kids non-profit, it’s the only one of its kind in California. An official from the California Peace Officers Standards and Training attended, hoping to share what he saw with police officials statewide.

Many graduates said the program made them stronger, physically and mentally. A few even said they might want to become police officers.

Marie, 11, a Danbrook Elementary School fifth-grader said, she enjoyed seeing a troublemaking classmate receive consequences for his outbursts.

“If somebody gets in trouble, everybody pays the price,” she said. “We did a lot of push-ups, thanks to him.”

Martin Sanchez, 27, said he saw a transformation in his stepson, Ryan Jimenez, 10, a Paul Revere Elementary fourth-grader. “His attitude has changed,” he said. “He’s following directions.”

Recently, when asked to complete chores, he responded, “yes, sir” without provocation.

“This is a great program,” he said. “They teach the kids skills that they need and will use in real life.”

Graduates were awarded certificates, and some earned medals or trophies for their achievements. Each student wrote an essay about what they learned. Officers selected five to read it in front of the crowd.

Brandon Martinez, 11, thanked his parents and the police department.

“Without Jr. Cadets I probably wouldn’t be the person I am and I might be doing bad stuff,” he said.

The program clearly helped his self-esteem.

“Thank you for listening to my wonderful speech,” he said, ending his remarks.

For more information or to join, visit  www.anaheimcops4kids.com.

Popular junior cadets class swells to 300

By Anthony F. Irwin


More than 300 kids, ages 9-12, gathered Sunday at Betsy Ross Elementary School for what represents a reward for their hard work in the 14-week Junior Cadet program.

The program pairs the police department with six local schools to teach discipline, respect and responsibility. Officials estimate the split to be around 60%-40% of at risk students vs. those interested in careers in law enforcement or military.


This class was the largest ever, more than double the enrollment rate of the winter session.

“The program is just phenomenal,” said Officer Jake Gallacher. “I’ve been working with them for nine months now and had no idea the impact we would have on these kids.  Once they graduate, they will return to their respective schools as role models and further the progress we’ve already made.”

On Sunday, the cadets took part in an obstacle course race, physical agility testing and SWAT lessons.  They were also treated to an exhibition by the mounted team and were introduced to the K-9 squad.

After a short break, they gathered on the playing field to see “Angel” – APD’s larger helicopter – in action.  Once it was safe to approach, platoons made their way to more closely inspect the helicopter and were given a lesson on being a pilot by Officers Ty Hagenson and Josh Blackburn.


One junior cadet could not contain himself as he made his way from Angel.  “This is the best day of my life!” he said.

After that excitement, the students reassembled to receive their invitations to graduation.  The ceremony will take place June 13 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Police show ‘gang girls’ a better way

A troubling trend is developing, police say: Girls and young women are becoming more frequently involved in dangerous gang activity.

A recent example occurred in March, when two girls drove a gang member to a rival’s territory, allegedly to tag. The gang member, 17, was confronted by rivals, then shot and killed when a bullet entered the car, police said. In a car seat with the female gang associates was a 3-year-old boy.

The girls escaped without injury, and investigators arrested two juvenile gang members on suspicion of murder.

To combat the growing number of “gang girls,” the Police Department has created a unique program called “Girls Club,” which complements the department’s Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership.

The idea: To identify at-risk girls and show them there’s a better way than the gang lifestyle.

Police work with the school district and identify girls who are exhibiting troubling behavior. The girls meet monthly throughout the school year, and for many of the girls, it’s a final opportunity to change their behavior – or face expulsion.

The girls must regularly attend class, get good grades and avoid any disciplinary issues to remain involved. Female police officers are among the mentors. The officers encourage the girls to speak freely in the sessions and also challenge them to think about the consequences of their associations and decisions.

“Many of the girls just need somebody to believe in them,” said Officer LadyCarla Palomino, one of the mentors.

The most recent session ended earlier this month with 16 graduates. To honor the accomplishment, the Police Department arranged for a day of pampering that included makeovers, hair styling, new clothing and a formal brunch – all donated by community partners.

The girls started at Sephora at South Coast Plaza, which donated stylists’ time and make-up for makeovers. Then they changed into new outfits that were provided by the Orange County Family Justice Center and Forever 21. Finally, the girls, ages 12 to 14, had a formal brunch at the Anaheim Hills Golf Course.

“The goal of most of our youth-focused programs, such as GRIP, Cops4Kids and Girls Club, is to try to break the cycle of gang membership and violence to make Anaheim an even safer place to live and work for the next generation,” said Sgt. Bob Dunn.

This story was published in the Orange County Register.

Life-savers, great detective work and extraordinary careers celebrated

By Kevin Rice

Officers Jared DeWald and Yesenia Escobar patrolled, Guinida Ln., one of Anaheim’s most violent gang neighborhoods last May when three gang members raced toward them from the wrong side of the road.

The gang members screeched to a stop in front of the two uniformed officers in a plain car. One gang member jumped out of the car and began shooting.

DeWald threw the vehicle into reverse, and spun it around to escape while Escobar called dispatchers to send help. The gang members gave chase. Dispatcher Amanda Media quickly dispatched Officers Ryan Wardle and Jason Smith, who caught up with the gang members. The gang members jumped out the car and ran. Wardle and Smith chased them down, and all three suspects were arrested and now face charges of attempted murder of a police officer.

DeWald, Escobar, Wardle, Smith and Medina were honored last week with a distinguished service award at the police department’s annual awards ceremony for their actions during the incident.


They were among the Anaheim Police officers and employees celebrated for their efforts in saving lives, solving crimes and spending entire careers serving the community. The department also honored volunteers and community members who’ve contributed to improving public safety.

The other distinguished award-winner:

  • Officer Ryan Nichols, who chased two males who attempted an armed robbery of a Radio Shack on Euclid Street. Nichols pursued the criminals by car, then by foot, finally catching and taking one suspect into custody who had ditched his gun, while the other was apprehended shortly thereafter. Although the weapon was determined to be a BB gun, Nichols showed tremendous courage while confronting the two suspects.

The lifesaving award winners:

  • Officers Brian Snowden and Sal Piscopo revived a month-old baby who had stopped breathing.
  • Officers Mike Brannigan and Minh Nguyen who preformed CPR on a 53 year old man who suffered a fatal heart attack, saving his life.
  • Investigator Paul Delgado and Officer Stephen Craig whose quick thinking to apply a tourniquet to a victim with large arterial cut was credited to slowing blood flow and saving a 21-year-old man’s life.
  • Officers Nick Benallack and Brett Heitmann who managed to control the bleeding and save the life of a 20-year-old man attempting to take his own life.
  • Sgt. Tom Mathisen and Officer Pat Hornak, who saved the life of a 14-year-old boy who had fallen in the family pool. The boy was released from the hospital four days later, just in time for Christmas. It was Mathisen’s third life-saving medal. He retired in December and the event capped a 40-year-career.

Retirees honored for their service were: Police Chief John Welter, Deputy Chief Craig Hunter, Capt. Belinda Brewer, Det. Dan Ballew, Traffic Matron Judy Harper, Sgt. Chuck Knight, Officer Jim Saenz and Officer Chris Schneider.

Police Explorer Robert Santaella was awarded the Chief Harold A. Bastrup Explorer of the Year award for donating more than 600 hours to the community.

Earning a Meritorious Service Award was Forensic Specialist Pat Nolte, whose forward thinking brought some of the most advanced technology to the Department in the area of fingerprint identification. Guenther, the department’s first police dog to earn an award, was honored for leading police to confiscate more than 850 pounds of illegal narcotics with more than $1.2 million, and catching 22 suspects including a man accused of killing two people.

The units of the year were the gang detail and communications bureau.


Winner of the Joseph T. Molloy career achievement award was Jim Conley.

Volunteers were also honored. Those who gave up to 500 hours of volunteer service throughout their career in Anaheim: Joe Ayala, Marie Bailey, Kathleen Barr, Carolyn Bessire, Danielle Chenault-Tevera, William Farid, Brenda Nardolillo, Gene Nelson and Tina Sorenson.

Up to 1000 hours: Perfecto Alferos, Gerry Bordelon, Georgian Browne, Sandy DiSario, Marge Herman, Pam Holsinger, Joey Santomassino, Wanda Smith-Brace, Doreen Van Lith and Don Williams.

Between 1000-1500 hours: Sylvia Abbott, Pat Bartolone, Mary Collier, Bert Crawford, Bev Guida, Frank Lasner, Ken Levin, Vinny Nardolillo, Tommy Ruiz, Sr. and Jerry Silverman.

Bewteen 1500-2000: Steve Bartolone, Gene Benedict and John Henage. Between 200-2500: Dr. Alice Grant. Between 2500-3000: Charlie Jeung, Earle Moriarty, Elaine Proko and Helen Scott. Between 3000-3500 hours: Don Baldwin, Judy Benvenuto and Melva Snyder.

Also honored for volunteerism: Don Schilling, 4,801 hours; Dee Moriarity, 5,879 hours; Loretta Ogden, 5,894 hours; Dave Ostby, 7,411 hours and Claire Neisses, 8,787 hours.

Community partners honored included: Leticia Chacon, principal at Paul Revere Elementary School who opens her school for community and neighborhood watch meetings and works to teach English to adult residents; Kandis Richardson, a west Anaheim resident involved with the “Renew West Anaheim” group; Jimmy Romero, a central Anaheim resident who works to stop graffiti in his neighborhood; Leslie Swan, who started a Facebook page for East Anaheim residents to share information and has become a voice for bringing crime prevention information to the community.


Division employees of the year: The community service award winners were: Officer Ernesto Sena, Veterans of Foreign Wars. The American Legion honored Capt. Julian Harvey, Sgt. Rich LaRochelle, Sgt. Daron Wyatt, Det. Mark Lillemoen, Ofc. Garrett Melberg, Crime Analyst Alejandra Monzon, Traffic Control Assistant Rene Taylor and cadet Christina Vanlakerveld for their work to track the serial killer of homeless men. Also honored were Gina Meza, Cops4Kids, Pat Willis, Property and Evidence Unit, and Ryan Dedmon, Communications Officer Erin Moore was recognized by the Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) and received the Randall Gaston Community Service award. The California Public Safety Radio Association recognized the outstanding performance of Dispatcher Leora Navarro during a 9-1-1 call in June last year. The California Public Safety Radio Association also recognized the entire Communications Bureau for their professional performance during the civil unrest in July of last year.

  • Officer Chris Petropulos – Operations Division Officer of the Year
  • Crime Prevention Specialists Arleen Harris – Operations Employee of the Year
  • Sgt. Glenn Larson – Special Operations Division Investigator of the Year
  • Traffic Control Assistant Rick Jones – Special Operations Division Employee of the Year
  • Detective Julissa Trapp – Detective of the Year
  • Property and Evidence Detail Supervisor Pat Willis – Investigations Employee of the Year
  • Sgt. James Kazakos – Operations Support Officer of the Year
  • Police Records Specialist Linda Davis – Operation Support Employee of the Year
  • Sgt. Bob Dunn – Chief’s Division Officer of the Year
  • Ms. Evelyn Lee – Chief’s Division Officer of the Year – Budget and Finance Bureau
  • Officer Jerrard Bastiaanse – Reserve Officer of the Year