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Video: K-9 Bruno other APD heroes honored

K9 Bruno, five others earn APD Distinguished Service awards

K9 Bruno isn’t the only star at the Anaheim Police Department.

RJ and Bruno

RJ and Bruno


The recently retired K9 officer – who made international news after being shot while searching for an armed gang member – was just one of several police officers and volunteers honored for their service Thursday night at the APD’s 2014 Awards Ceremony and Retirement Dinner.

More than 500 people cheered and gave Bruno, who was wearing the medal around his neck, and his handler, R.J. Young, a standing ovation when they took the stage at The Grove.

“I appreciate (you) from the bottom of my heart,” a choked-up Young told his police colleagues.

Bruno was among six officers to receive the prestigious Distinguished Service awards, which also went to:

Officer Eric Anderson, Officer Ted Petropulos and Detective Matthew Bradley, for saving the life of a female victim during a domestic disturbance call. The victim was found bound and gagged in an apartment filled with firearms; the male suspect was arrested.

• Officer Dave Herman, for his role in the arrest of suspects believed to be responsible for more than 20 “take-over” robberies in Orange County.

• Investigator Kelly Phillips, for his efforts in an incident involving a stolen vehicle and subsequent foot pursuit where gunfire was exchanged.

Chief Raul Quezada thanked police volunteers, community supporters, civilian employees and “our field personnel who risk their lives every day and every night to protect our community.”

The award winners include:

• Lifesaving Awards: Officer Jason Smith, for assisting a man down on a sidewalk with lifesaving efforts; and Officer Robert Benavidez, for preventing an intoxicated man wandering the streets from committing suicide.

Sgt. Jerry Blair and Capt. Jarret Young

Sgt. Jerry Blair and Capt. Jarret Young

• Retiring Officer Mike Brannigan, Sgt. Mike Bustamante, Forensic Supervisor Jim Conley and Correctional Officer Sandra Valladolid were honored for their service.

Brannigan presented Quezada with a sign to hang in the police department that reads, “Be careful out there.”

• The Joseph T. Molloy Career Achievement Award was bestowed on Officer David Heinzel

• Explorer Sgt. Arumi Hernandez, Harold A. Bastrup Police Explorer of the Year

Meeka Gil-Casas, Community Member Recognition, East District of Anaheim.

• Pastor Nathan Zug, Community Member Recognition, West District.

Lynda Santos, Community Member Recognition, Central District.

Mary Lepman, Community Member Recognition, South District.

Explorer of the year Sgt. Arumi Hernandez

Explorer of the year Sgt. Arumi Hernandez

Mari Tafoya, Community Member Recognition, Psychiatric Emergency Response Team.

Marie Avena, Community Member Recognition, Coast to Coast Foundation

Sensei Fred Mason, Community Member Recognition, Cops 4 Kids karate program

Anna Ward and Shawn Funkhouser, Community Member Recognition, for assisting officers responding to a bank robbery in east Anaheim

The Veterans of Foreign Wars recognized Officer Steve Salicos as their V.F.W. Police Officer of the Year.

Officer David Watson received the Trauma Intervention Program of Orange County’s “2013 Heroes With A Heart Award.”

Division Employees of the Year:

Operations: Officer of the Year Jonathan McClintock; Employee of the Year Rachel Lozano; Investigator of the Year Officer John Roman

Special Operations: Traffic Control Supervisor Maria Vega Velez was named Employee of the Year, Investigator Ed Arevalo was named Investigator of the Year

APD's dhaplains were honored

APD’s chaplains were honored

Investigations: Victim Advocate Elia Renteria, Employee of the Year

Operations Support: Robert Conklin, Jr., Officer of the Year; Correctional Supervisor Ed Bennett, Employee of the Year

Support Services: Employees of the Year: Communications Supervisor Steven Querry and Records Specialist Max Silavong

Chief’s Division: Chaplain’s Corps, Professional Staff of the Year (Lead Chaplain Nigel Morris, Chaplains Bryan Crow, Kerry Duerr, Tim Fryer, Jimmy Gaston and David Lazo)

Reserve Officer of the Year: Steve Sheflin

Meritorious Service Awards: Sgt. Jerry Blair, Sgt, Craig Friesen, Det. Bruce Linn, Senior Property & Evidence Technician Nicole Rapp, Officers Jesse Romero and Cesar Vasquez.

Unit of the Year: the Criminal Intelligence Unit, led by Sgt. Jimmy Rodriguez, Investigators Omar Adham, Ted Lopez, Jason Santy, Robert Warren, PJ Wann, Chuck Schroth, and prior to his promotion Sgt. James Griswold.

Volunteers honored were:

* (up to 500 hours of service): Kathleen Barr, Carolyn Bessire, William Farid, Jan Kentopian, Julie Kline, Alan Marcus, Maxine Marcus, MaryAnn Mecke, Laurie Meredith, Al Morgan, Jr., David Simkin, Donald Smith, Robin Smith, Tina Sorenson, Robert Witter

* (between 500 and 1,000 hours): Perfecto Alferos, Gerry Bordelon, Georgian Browne, Marge Herman, Pam Holsinger, Lou Jordan, Janice Mazza, Gene Nelson

* (between 1,000 and 1,500 hours): Gary Aagesen, June Aagesen, Sylvia Abbott, Pat Bartolone, Sandy DiSario, Ericka Flores, Tommy Ruiz, Sr., Jerry Silverman, Wanda Smith-Brace, Don Williams

* (between 1,500 and 2,000 hours): Lois Arnold, Steve Bartolone, Gene Benedict, Mary Collier

* (between 2,000 and 2,500 hours): Bert Crawford, Raul Valdivia

* (between 2,500 to 3,000 hours): Charlie Jeung, Earle Moriarty, Elaine Proko

* (between 3,000 and 4,000 hours): Don Baldwin

Two other volunteers, Helen Scott (4,267) and Judy Benvenuto (4,519), received lifetime achievement award status, joining other lifetime achievement recipients Melva Snyder (4,279), Don Schilling (5,434), Dee Moriarty (6,217) and Loretta Ogden (6,576). Claire Neises was singled out for volunteering an eye-popping 11,124 hours.

Sandy DiSario, Don Williams and Perfecto Alferos were honored at the recent “Seniors Making a Difference” volunteer recognition program.

Five ways to reduce risk of drowning

By Mayrav Saar

Behind every “carefree” childhood experience, there is a parent who has anticipated, prepared for and arranged everything.

Summer safety is no exception. Drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States, with 20% of those involving children. For every childhood drowning, there are four visits to emergency rooms for near-drownings, which can result in lifelong injury, including permanent brain damage.

That doesn’t mean you have to strap Junior to a life preserver, but it does mean educating yourself and planning ahead. Swim lessons are helpful but not enough.

“As we move into the summer months, families will be prepping their pools to offer an oasis from the California heat. Take the time to prep your family about the dangers of drowning and what to do in the case of an emergency. Remember, children drown without a sound,” said Lt. Bob Dunn.

Follow these five steps, and your little cannonball will (safely) have a blast as he makes a huge splash.

1. Know what drowning looks like. In most cases, people who are drowning don’t flail about like they do in the movies. They are generally unable to call out, though their mouths might bob above the surface. On first blush, they might appear to be safely treading water. But if they can’t speak or if their eyes seem glassy, they actually might be drowning.

2. Know where drowning can happen. A child can drown in just 1 inch of water. So inflatable baby pools, bathtubs and even deep buckets that a child could fall into need to be treated with the same caution as the deep end of an Olympic-size pool. If in doubt, stay within an arm’s reach of young children and children who can’t swim.

3. Take a CPR course or refresher course now.

4. Never leave your kids alone in or by the pool. When they are in the pool, an adult who knows child CPR should supervise them and stay at arms’ length the whole time. When they’re not in the pool, put alarms on your doors so you are alerted when they open, and put a net on or gate around your pool – safety trumps aesthetics. Fencing a pool on all sides reduces risk of drowning from unsupervised swimming by more than 80%.

5. Clear the area of pool toys when not in use. Once swim time is over, remove the temptation for children to return to the pool unsupervised. Most drowning deaths among young children occur when parents are nearby, but a child visits the pool alone.

K-9 Bruno retires; homicide detail recognized

A standing-room-only audience packed City Hall Tuesday evening to cheer Bruno the police dog, who officially retired several weeks after being shot in the face protecting his partners from an armed gang member.Bruno and RJ Young

The audience also applauded Anaheim’s homicide team – and sex-crimes Det. Laura Lomeli – who in late April arrested two men suspected of killing at least five women.

After receiving a proclamation from the state assembly, Bruno yelped, which drew cheers from the audience.

His handler, R.J. Young, choked back tears as he described Bruno’s retirement as “bittersweet.”

“He’s retiring on top,” said Young, who thanked his colleagues, the community and the world for its support.

He gave special thanks to the Friends of the Anaheim K-9 nonprofit for providing funds to ensure the care “quality he’s earned” in retirement.

Bruno’s story drew international headlines, millions of likes on Facebook and more than 13 million impressions on Twitter. On Tuesday night, many residents wore “Hero” K-9 Bruno T-shirts.

Mayor Tom Tait called Bruno “our most famous K-9,” and Police Chief Raul Quezada said he was “so proud of our community” for coming together in support of Bruno, the K-9 unit and the police department.

City Hall’s corridors were lined with men and women in uniform, who applauded Bruno’s career – and the achievement of the homicide unit.

The investigators worked tirelessly to identify and arrest registered sex offenders Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Gordon, 45, on suspicion of killing at least five sex workers.

Great police work stops serial killers, saves lives

The interrogation is chilling. But it was also strategic.

To see a KTLA-TV report on the Ocampo interrogation, click on the photo

To see a KTLA-TV report on the Ocampo interrogation, click on the photo

Sgt. Darren Wyatt knew the serial killer, a former Marine, would respond best to an authoritative tone.

“You know what’s right and you know what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” answered Itzcoatl Ocampo, hours after his January 2012 arrest for a homicidal spree that left six dead, including four homeless men. Police released a video recording of the interview last week.

“Do you think that what you’ve done is right or wrong?” Wyatt asked.

“Wrong, but it had to be done,” Ocampo explained. His disturbing rationalization: homeless people are a drag on the economy and must be eliminated.

He was arrested after Lt. Bob Dunn, the police department’s spokesman first on scene, set up a perimeter.

Ocampo killed himself in November, swallowing a lethal amount of Ajax while in his jail cell, police said.

Dunn and Wyatt aren’t the only Anaheim police officers who made news in April for tracking a serial killer.

Anaheim’s entire homicide unit – with assists from Santa Ana police detectives, FBI agents, parole and probation officers and Anaheim sex crimes Det. Laura Lomeli – identified, tracked and ultimately arrested two homeless sex offenders in April. The men are accused of killing at least five sex workers.

The investigation began after 21-year-old Jarrae Estepp’s body was found on a recycling conveyer belt.

Hunting for clues, Det. Bruce Linn crawled through the reeking dumpster looking for clues. More than 75 investigators searched through dumpsters, interviewed witnesses and worked around the clock. The detectives scoured information from registered sex offenders’ GPS ankle bracelets and cell phone data from the dead and missing women.

The effort led to two suspects, but it would be more than a week before they could make the arrests.

“It’s frustrating when you know who it is and you can’t do anything,” Julissa Trapp, lead detective on the case, told the Orange County Register.

In a bizarre coincidence, police arrested Franc Cano, 27, in the same parking lot where they had arrested Ocampo two years earlier. Also arrested was Steven Gordon, 45.

In both the prostitute and homeless serial killing cases, police showed tremendous tenacity, smarts and compassion.

In both cases, work remains. Police hope to identify the fifth victim in the prostitute killings and find the bodies of Kianna Jackson, 20, Josephine Vargas, 34, or Martha Anaya, 28.

But this much is certain, officials say: great police work prevented more killings.