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SANTA BARBARA, CA – May 18, 2022
Today the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime selected three Santa Barbara Police Officers for the H. Thomas Guerry Award for valor: Officer Adrian Gutierrez, Officer Christina Ortega, and Officer Davina Valerio. Chief Bernard Melekian presented these Officers with the award. These three Officers responded to a serious structure fire in the 700 block of Spring Street on the morning on November 17, 2021. All three Officers and one community member, rescued a trapped man in a full blown residential structure fire. Without the Officers’ quick thinking and immediate response, it is believed the man trapped would have perished in the blaze (please see initial release included below).
History of the H. Thomas Guerry Award:
“On January 12, 1970, Detective H. Thomas Guerry was conducting an investigation and driving on Chapala Street, the detective noticed two wanted men walking in the area of Ortega Street and Bradbury Avenue. As he approached the intersection the wanted men split apart from one another and began to walk back to each side of the front of the police vehicle. As the detective stepped from his vehicle, both wanted subjects opened fire with handguns, fatally wounding Detective Guerry.
The death of Detective Tom Guerry ripped through the heart of Santa Barbara, as well as the entire region. In memory of Tom, the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime established the H. Thomas Guerry award. Each year, law enforcement officers from agencies in the County of Santa Barbara are honored for valor, skill in conflict resolution, and outstanding overall performance. The Guerry Award continues to be the most coveted and respected award one can receive in the county. It is through the Guerry Awards that the memory of Tom can be kept alive and his legacy of courage and dedication honored.” (Source: California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation)
Officer Adrian Gutierrez has been serving at the Santa Barbara Police Department for 22 years. He has had numerous assignments during his time here at the Department to include Patrol Officer, Beat Coordinator, School Resource Officer, Crisis Negotiations Officer, and Community Liaison Officer. He is also one of our Police Activities League Officers.
Officer Christina Ortega has been serving at the Police Department for nearly 22 years. She has worked as a First Aid Instructor, Crowd Control Instructor, and Drinking Driving Team Officer. She currently is serving as a Field Training Officer on patrol, teaching, and mentoring Officers who have just completed the police academy.
Officer Davina Valerio was on field training with Officer Ortega at the time this call for service came out. It was only her fifth day as a patrol officer. Since then, she has successfully completed her field training program and is currently serving as a solo patrol Officer in the Mesa neighborhood and upper westside.
Chief Bernard Melekian stated, “It was my honor to award Officer Adrian Gutierrez, Officer Christina Ortega, and Officer Davina Valerio with the H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor. The Santa Barbara Police Department, as well as the entire community of Santa Barbara thanks these Officers for their heroic actions.”