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Santa Barbara, Calif.  –On Thursday, May 18, 2023, the Sheriff’s Office honored employees and community members at an Annual Recognition Awards Program and Luncheon held at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. The award recipients were recognized for their exemplary service during 2022. Lunch was graciously provided by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse who have consistently hosted this event as a gesture of support and thanks to the honorees.

The ceremony began with a presentation of service pins, honoring team members who have served the County of Santa Barbara for 25 years including Sheriff’s Sergeant Dustin Poquette, Sheriff’s Deputy Special Duty William Henslin, Sheriff’s Deputy Special Duty Douglas Jones, Custody Deputy Special Duty Anthony DeLira, Custody Deputy Sophia Bendele, Administrative Office Professional Senior Jennifer Tieso, Administrative Office Professional II Socorro Vargas, and Custodian Javier Hernandez.

The next honorees were community member Jeffrey Stark and Sheriff’s Dispatcher Nichole Sagisi who were honored with the Sheriff’s Office certificate of merit and the Emergency Medical Services Agency CPR Save award, respectively for their lifesaving teamwork when Stark came upon a person in cardiac arrest and provided lifesaving CPR to the patient with Sagisi’s assistance in dispatching first responders and providing CPR instructions over the phone. The patient whose life was saved joined them on stage during the awards presentation.

Twenty-five deputies received a commendation for naloxone saves where they administered Narcan in a manner that resulted in the reversal of a suspected opioid overdose and prevented a victim from dying. These deputies include; Sheriff’s Deputy Special Duty Jose Alvarez, Sheriff’s Deputy Special Duty James Carovano, Sheriff’s Deputy Special Duty Thomas Green, Sheriff’s Deputy Special Duty Isaac Munoz, Sheriff’s Deputy Bruno Bertuzzi, Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Brady, Sheriff’s Deputy Eduardo Cazarez, Sheriff’s Deputy Tyler Davis, Community Resource Deputy Bryan Dickey, Sheriff’s Deputy Torey Dunn, Sheriff’s Deputy Hartley Freedman, Sheriff’s Deputy Garrett Gish, Sheriff’s Deputy Jesus Gutierrez, Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Martinez, Sheriff’s Deputy Gregory Plett, Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Portman, Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Skall, Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Thomas, Sheriff’s Deputy Garrett Weinreich, Sheriff’s Deputy Connor Worden, Custody Deputy Jose Alejo, Custody Deputy Cole Knapp, Custody Deputy Joel Mena, Custody Deputy Matthew Sua, and Custody Deputy Oswaldo Zacarias.

Next, was the presentation of the highest civilian award given by the Sheriff’s Office – The Exceptional Civilian Award. The first recipient was Sharon Byrne, Executive Director of the Montecito Association, who was honored for her extraordinary dedication to others and her collaborative work with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. An additional Exceptional Civilian Award will be presented to the founding members of One 805; Eric Phillips, Nina Phillips, Kirsten Cavendish Weston-Smith, Richard Weston-Smith, and John Thyne III, who were unable to make it to last week’s ceremony.

The next awards presented were the Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award – presented to members of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office, members of allied agencies or civilians who perform CPR or other lifesaving first aid procedures upon ill or injured persons, resulting in the individual surviving their immediate injury or medical emergency. Honorees included; Custody Deputy Mason Henslin, Custody Deputy Jose Miguel, Custody Deputy Paul Russ, Custody Deputy Jose Robledo, Custody Deputy Oswaldo Zacarias, Custody Deputy Jose Miguel, Custody Deputy Jasmin Cruz, Custody Deputy Tristin Fichtner, Custody Deputy Michael Halcomb, and Custody Deputy Blake Martinez.

Next, teams of Communications dispatchers who answered 911 calls for patients who were unconscious and not breathing, along with the deputies who responded to the call were honored with the Emergency Medical Services Agency CPR Save award and Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award for their combined efforts that resulted in the preservation of life. Honorees included Communications Dispatcher Kelsey Gagen with Sheriff’s Deputy Tomas Brownlee, and Communications Dispatcher Daisy Cortez with Sheriff’s Deputy Eduardo Cazarez.

Next, Sheriff Brown presented Sheriff’s Sergeant Jarom Kemp and Los Angeles County Firefighter Jason Brody with the Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award for their teamwork in response to a witnessed cardiac arrest incident where the patient survived thanks to their coordinated efforts. The patient whose life was saved joined them on stage during the awards presentation.

Deputy Ignacio Rios Jr. was awarded the Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award for his response to a call of an overdose patient where he responded, deployed two doses of Narcan, and administered CPR which resulted in the patient surviving.

Deputies Steven Martinez and Michael Reynoso were awarded the Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award for their response to a vehicle roll-over where they worked together to render aid to victims trapped in an overturned vehicle, including applying a tourniquet to a patient’s arm. Their swift and resolute actions resulted in the preservation of the patient’s life.

Deputy Simon Trujillo was awarded the Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award for his response to call of a motorcyclist down where he applied a tourniquet to a victim’s leg, ultimately saving the patient’s life.

Next, Sheriff Brown presented two Sheriff’s Unit Citations, an award intended to recognize a particular organizational unit for outstanding service resulting from a team effort.  Honorees this year were the Sheriff’s Special Operations Response Team (SORT), and the Classification and Intelligence Unit along with Custody K9 Units.

Next, Sheriff Brown presented the Meritorious Service Award. This award is given to members of the Sheriff’s Office who perform superior accomplishments that result in significant contributions to the efficient operation of the Sheriff’s Office. There were two recipients this year; Community Resource Deputy Justin Schroeder for his service to the Isla Vista community, and Sheriff’s Deputy Kody Kiesow who responded to a partially submerged vehicle where he entered brackish and algae-infested waters to attempt rescue of the driver, and administered CPR, doing everything he could to save the patient who was later pronounced deceased.

Sheriff Brown closed the awards ceremony with presentations of the Distinguished Service Medal, awarded to members of the Sheriff’s Office who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in assigned duties with loyalty and dedication over a prolonged period. This award is not intended to recognize length of service but is intended to recognize sustained distinguished performance above and beyond normal job requirements. Retired Sheriff’s Deputy Leslie Avila was honored for the positive impact she had on children, education over 10,000 students as the DARE manager and instructor. School Resource Deputy George “Meade” Hedricks was honored for his eleven years of exceptional dedication, guardianship, and commitment to the safety and wellbeing of the young people and school staff he serves at Dos Pueblos High School.

Sheriff Brown closed the ceremony by sharing; “Day after day you exhibit physical and moral courage, compassion, caring and dedication to duty.” He added “Thank you again to our award recipients and to each and every one of you for all you do to make me proud to be your Sheriff, and to everyone who made this event possible today.”


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