And the award goes to…Garden Grove Police honor their own at annual ceremony

By Greg Hardesty

No long walks to the podium.

No speeches cut short by a live orchestra.

No political statements or bloated musical numbers.

Unlike the just-aired Academy Awards, the Garden Grove Police Department recognized its own Thursday in a brisk, straightforward ceremony that honored officers and civilians for their good work last year — as well as retirements and promotions.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” Chief Todd Elgin told the guests, who included several children and spouses of PD employees.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate each other,” Elgin said of the Garden Grove Police Department’s Annual Employee Recognition Reception Awards Ceremony.

Without further ado, the envelopes please…

Chief Todd Elgin congratulates 2014 Civilian of the Year, Dispatcher Cheryl Whitney.

Chief Todd Elgin congratulates 2014 Civilian of the Year Dispatcher Cheryl Whitney.

Civilian of the Year: Dispatcher Cheryl Whitney

“Cheryl approaches challenges with patience and confidence,” Elgin said. “She is dependable, efficient and sets a great example to the rest of the Records Unit.” Elgin praised Whitney for her outstanding customer service skills in her recent promotion to dispatcher.

Master Officer Chuck Starnes, 2014 Officer of the Year, with Chief Todd Elgin. Photo: Steven Georges

Master Officer Chuck Starnes, 2014 Officer of the Year, with Chief Todd Elgin. Photo: Steven Georges

Officer of the Year: Master Officer Chuck Starnes

Among Starnes’ achievements in 2014 were 22 occupied stolen vehicle arrests and 30 DUI arrests. He also discovered latent prints that led to hits on three cold-case residential burglary cases. And Starnes finished off the year with the delivery of a baby boy (click here to read story).

Corp. Timothy Kovacs (right) receives the Medal of Courage from Chief Todd Elgin. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Corp. Timothy Kovacs (right) receives the Medal of Courage from Chief Todd Elgin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Medal of Courage: Corp. Tim Kovacs

Kovacs took quick and decisive action to save the lives of two homeowners after a man confronted them inside their home with a knife. The female resident was treated for a stab wound; the suspect was shot by Kovacs after he ignored repeated demands to drop a shotgun he had wrestled from the male homeowner.

Commitment to Service Award: Sgt. James Fischer

Fischer was lauded for working with Anaheim officials to coordinate a marathon that included portions of Garden Grove with the “Open Streets” event he took a lead role in organizing. Elgin praised him for exhibiting purpose, vision and values “above and beyond” what is expected.

Life-Saving Medals

Officer Eduardo Barajas and Officer Daniel Karschamroon — For their roles in treating a woman shot in the throat during a home-invasion robbery. She is expected to make a full recovery.

Officer Luis Contreras and Officer Willie Holloway — For rendering aid to a male resident of a sober living home who had stabbed himself in the throat several times.

Sgt. Jon Wainwright, Corp. Vince Vaicaro and Master Officer Chuck Starnes — For saving the life of a suspect in a domestic-violence incident who shot himself in the stomach in a botched suicide attempt.

Class A Commendations

Officer Christopher Earle

Officer Michael Elhami

Sgt. Orlonzo Reyes

Sgt. Michael Viscomi

Master Officer Kevin Dinh

Master Officer Erick Leyva

Officer Dennis Wardle

Det. Mario Martinez

Det. Terra Ramirez

Det. Mike Reynolds

Det. Ed Desbiens

Corp. George Kaiser

Corp. Vince Vaicaro

Officer Chris Earle

Sgt. Jon Wainwright

Corp. Jeff Mooney

Corp. Vince Vaicaro (his second)

Master Officer Jim Franks

Master Officer Ralph Loera

Master Officer Chuck Starnes

Officer Kathy Anderson

Officer Robert Campbell

Officer Allan Harry

Officer Keith Higgins

Officer Austin Laverty

Officer Ron Reyes

Officer Dan Villegas

Civilian of the 4th Quarter: Records Specialist Deborah Lara

Officer of the 4th Quarter: Officer Paul Ashby

Civilian of the 3rd Quarter: Community Service Officer Joni Hightower

Officer of the 3rd Quarter: Investigator Dave Young

Civilian of the 2nd Quarter: Records Specialist Ashley Serota

Officer of the 2nd Quarter: Corp. Han Cho

Civilian of the 1st Quarter: Records Specialist Cheryl Whitney (now a dispatcher)

Officer of the 1st Quarter: Master Officer Dave Lopez

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Awards

Officer Paul Ashby

Officer Willie Holloway

Master Officer Charles Starnes

Master Officer Adam Zmija

Master Officer Royce Wimmer

Master Officer Nathan Morton

Master Officer Lino Santana

Master Officer Rocky Rubalcaba

Retirements

Investigator Paul Danielson

Chief Kevin Raney

Lt. John Keely

Sgt. Bob Bowers

Officer Greg Gallegos

Promotions

Master Officer Thomas Capps

Master Officer Juan Delgado

Master Officer Kevin Dinh

Master Officer Robert Stephenson

Master Officer Edgar Valencia

Corp. John Bankson

Corp. Nick Jensen

Corp. Sean Salazar

Corp. Vince Vaicaro

Sgt. Rich Burillo of the Garden Grove PD gets his new badge pinned to him by his wife. Photo: Steven Georges

Sgt. Rich Burillo of the Garden Grove PD gets his new badge pinned to him by his wife. Photo: Steven Georges

Sgt. Rich Burillo

Sgt. James Holder gets his new badge. Photo: Steven Georges

Sgt. James Holder gets his new badge. Photo: Steven Georges

Sgt. Jim Holder

Sgt. Philip Schmidt gets his new badge pinned to him by his wife. Photo: Steven Georges

Sgt. Philip Schmidt gets his new badge pinned to him by his wife. Photo: Steven Georges

Sgt. Phil Schmidt

Sgt. Michael Viscomi

Sgt. Jon Wainwright has his new badge pinned to him by one of his two daughters. Photo: Steven Georges

Sgt. Jon Wainwright has his new badge pinned to him by one of his two daughters. Photo: Steven Georges

Sgt. Jon Wainwright

Lt. Bob Bogue has new new badge pinned on him by his wife. Photo: Steven Georges

Lt. Bob Bogue has new new badge pinned on him by his wife. Photo: Steven Georges

Lt. Bob Bogue

Lt. Thomas DaRe is presented with his new badge. Photo: Steven Georges

Lt. Thomas DaRe is presented with his new badge. Photo: Steven Georges

Lt. Tom DaRe

Lt. Christopher Lawton has his new badge pinned to him by his wife. Photo:  Steven Georges

Lt. Christopher Lawton has his new badge pinned to him. Photo:
Steven Georges

Lt. Chris Lawton

Capt. Kevin Boddy has his new badge pinned to him by his wife. Photo: Steven Georges

Capt. Kevin Boddy has his new badge pinned to him by his wife. Photo: Steven Georges

Capt. Kevin Boddy

Capt. Ben Stauffer. Photo: Steven Georges

Capt. Ben Stauffer and Chief Todd Elgin. Photo: Steven Georges

Capt. Ben Stauffer

Captain Kevin Boddy gets a kiss from his wife after receiving his new badge. Photo: Steven Georges

Captain Kevin Boddy gets a kiss from his wife after receiving his new badge. Photo: Steven Georges