Attorney General William P. Barr and Justice Department leadership today announced the recipients of the Third Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing, recognizing the exceptional work of 19 law enforcement officers and deputies from 12 jurisdictions across the country.
“Honoring and supporting the work of law enforcement officers and deputies is a top priority for the Trump Administration, and today is an opportunity for me to personally express my gratitude and commitment to those who risk their lives daily to protect our communities,” said Attorney General Barr. “The Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing honors exceptional police officers and the vital public service they provide. The brave men and women in law enforcement are engaged in an unrelenting and often unacknowledged fight to keep our communities safe each and every day. It is an honor to thank them for their service.”
President Donald J. Trump established clear directives for the Department of Justice – with three Executive Orders – demonstrating his strong support of the law enforcement community. These Executive Orders commit the Department to working in tandem with state and local law enforcement to restore the rule of law, reduce violent crime, dismantle criminal gangs, and combat the growing drug epidemic. Today the Department of Justice continues to support the President’s directive to honor law enforcement officers by announcing the third annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing.
The Attorney General’s Award recognizes individual state, local, and tribal sworn rank-and-file police officers and deputies for exceptional efforts in policing. The awarded officers and deputies have demonstrated active engagement with the community in one of three areas: criminal investigations, field operations or innovations in community policing. The Department received 199 nominations for 414 individuals ranging from state police departments, to local police, to campus public safety agencies. This award highlights the work that troopers, officers and deputies do to prevent, intervene in, and respond to crime and public safety issues. The individuals recognized today include:
Detective William Maldonado of the Suffolk County Police Department, New York:
Detective William Maldonado is being recognized posthumously for his effort in leading the criminal investigation into the violent transnational street gang MS-13. Detective Maldonado was assigned to assist in the investigation of the disappearance of a young man. Intelligence gathered by Detective Maldonado indicated the missing boy was a murder victim of MS-13. Without the detective’s work, along with his team, the murder spree would no doubt have continued. Instead, several dozen people were arrested, charged with 17 murders, the Suffolk County MS-13 Sailor Clique was eliminated, and several other cliques were disrupted. Maldonado accomplished this while battling cancer, and rarely missed work. He succumbed to his illness in 2018, but not before arrests were made in the cases.
Detectives George Duarte and Jeffrey Richards of the Providence Police Department, Rhode Island:
Detectives George Duarte and Jeffrey Richards are being recognized for their extraordinary investigative work in solving an abduction and sexual assault case of a 14-year-old girl. Their investigation not only solved that case, but also led to solving several other cases of sexual assault by the same suspect. Because of their work, the detectives were able to have this vicious predator removed from the community, victims of unreported crimes were helped, and justice was brought to a number of other victims.
Detectives Sandra Marquez and Kenneth Sealy of the Aventura Police Department, Florida:
Detectives Kenneth Sealy and Sandra Marquez are being recognized for their investigative work in solving several high-dollar fraud schemes targeting multiple businesses and retail stores. During an intense investigation involving a large credit card fraud ring operating in south Florida, the detectives identified approximately $194,000 in fraudulent transactions and seized another $218,000. Another case involved money laundering and widespread credit card fraud committed in multiple states, which included a loss of almost $4 million over three years. The detectives are continuing this important work in coordination with several federal agencies.
Officers Evan Jurgensen, Nicholas Kelly, Rachel Mynier, and John Yenchak of the Prince William County Police Department, Virginia:
In November 2018, the Prince William County Police Department received a call reporting an active shooter. Within minutes of responding to the scene, Officers Jurgensen, Kelly, Mynier and Yenchak had to take cover from gunfire. Officer Mynier noticed movement on the roof of a residence and transmitted a warning to incoming units, and in doing so saved lives. After the shooter ignored officers’ commands, he was eventually struck and fell to the ground. Although officers feared a possible second shooter, they exposed themselves to harm once again to extract the shooter for medical treatment, and also pulled an occupant from the residence to safety. The heroism demonstrated by each officer represents true courage.
Deputy Richard Hassna of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, California:
Deputy Richard Hassna is being recognized for his innovative use of small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for public safety operations. In 2018, during the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County, Deputy Hassna led more than 16 unmanned aerial vehicle teams, and conducted 517 flights in two days, taking more than 70,000 images. These images were stitched into a map that allowed residents to see the damage to their property, without being exposed to danger. This was likely the largest response of small UAS’s to a disaster scene in U.S. history. Deputy Hassna has also developed tactics and training for this technology that has redefined high-risk tactical operations and air support as we know it.
Deputy Ross Jessop of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, Montana:
Deputy Jessop is being recognized for his action and dedication to duty in saving the life of a kidnapped baby. In July 2018, the Sheriff’s Office received a call about a man with a gun, who had fled in a vehicle with his girlfriend’s infant son. One hour later the suspect appeared back on the scene without the baby. The suspect said he killed and buried the baby; but his irrational statements led investigators to search for the missing child. During Deputy Jessop’s search in more than a million acres of forest, he heard a faint whimper, and found a baby boy lying face down. To his surprise, the baby was alive and uninjured. There is no question Deputy Jessop’s instincts, perseverance, and dedication saved the child’s life.
Officers Aaron Bates and Alexander Stotik of the Cohasset Police Department, Massachusetts:
Officers Bates and Stotik are being recognized for their courageous actions that saved the life of a woman who was being brutally attacked. The officers were dispatched to a home where neighbors complained of loud noises and a fight. After investigating, the officers heard a muffled scream, kicked in a locked door, and saw what they described as an “attempted murder in progress.” After a heated struggle, the officers were able to subdue the suspect, place him under arrest, and get medical attention for the victim. The officers exhibited extraordinary valor, bravery, courage, and professionalism in the face of extreme danger that would no doubt have resulted in the murder of the victim.
INNOVATIONS IN COMMUNITY POLICING
Officer Phalon McFate of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nevada:
Officer McFate developed Project Daybreak, an initiative used to address violent crime-hot spots in downtown Las Vegas neighborhoods. Since it started, Project Daybreak has significantly contributed to decreasing violent crime – down by 50 percent in these neighborhoods. Through positive police interactions, Officer McFate was able to create transparency and build trust in neighborhoods, where these previously did not exist. The success of Project Daybreak is a direct result of Officer McFate’s passion and commitment to her community.
Officer Jesse Guardiola of the Tulsa Police Department, Oklahoma:
Officer Guardiola is being recognized for the Hispanic outreach program he has developed, which provides survival Spanish language training, and educates law enforcement and the community on the immigrant Hispanic culture. The program has received national recognition and is being promoted as a national model for Hispanic community outreach. Through his efforts, Officer Guardiola is building bridges and making a difference in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Detective Anthony Roberson of the Providence Police Department, Rhode Island:
Detective Roberson is being recognized for his use of community policing initiatives that build partnerships between law enforcement and local businesses to support underserved families. The “Shop with a Cop” program has now served 300 children. The “Handshake Initiative” has grown from 40 to 200 mentors, and is benefiting families of all backgrounds, across the city. Through these programs, Detective Roberson is giving back to his community, increasing partnerships and building bridges between law enforcement, families and businesses.
Officer Jonathan Plunkett of the Irving Police Department, Texas:
In August 2016, after the murder of five police officers in Dallas, Officer Plunkett began working on an outreach initiative to bridge the gap between the African-American community and law enforcement. The idea was to connect with the community in places where residents would feel comfortable, and be open to sharing their concerns and engaging in dialogue. Officer Plunkett knew that barbershops would work. The initiative, which began with one shop, has now increased to 16 shops, and is known as ShopTalk. Through ShopTalk, Officer Plunkett has created a way to build mutual trust and respect between law enforcement and community members who had not been reached with traditional police outreach efforts.
Detective Kathleen Lucero of the Isleta Tribal Police Department, New Mexico:
Detective Lucero is being recognized for community policing initiatives that provide resources to impoverished youth, and build connections between law enforcement and the community. Through the annual Reaching for A Star initiative, Detective Lucero provides gifts and food to more than 150 children and their families during the holiday season. Through her Camp Courage program, 60 children participate in a youth camp every summer. Detective Lucero’s on-and off-duty dedication cannot be overstated and has made a true impact on the community.
Officer Troy Quick of the Conyers Police Department, Georgia:
Officer Quick is making a lasting impact on the youth within his community. As a School Resource Officer at Rockdale County High School, Officer Quick has been able to help a number of students leave gang life. Whether it is though the mentoring sessions he coordinates for students, donating items to families in need, or just taking an interest in student’s daily lives, Officer Quick is a true example of dedication and service.
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