When Santa Barbara police Sgt. Andy Feller and Officer Carl Kamin responded to a report of a suicidal subject in January, they weren't sure what they'd find.
When asked how they felt walking into the situation, "apprehensive" was the word that came to mind.
They had received word from a concerned family member that a suicidal man had left a note saying goodbye, had been experiencing depression and had locked himself in a waterfront hotel in Santa Barbara.
To complicate the situation, the man in the room was a law enforcement officer from another state, and the family member said it was possible he was armed.
"The stressful part for me was knowing that he was law enforcement," Feller said. "He was a gun advocate and (the family member) felt that it wouldn't be unusual for him to travel with weapons, and that he was having a rough time with some depression. That's what made me nervous about sending officers to the door."
Kamin was able to get access to a room next door when a couple on vacation let them in, and from the balcony, Kamin could see the man lying on the floor of the other room.
Police forced entry into the hotel room, where they discovered the man had labored breathing and had ingested a large quantity of narcotics.
"The dynamic changed," Kamin said. "It went from being concerned about our safety to being concerned about someone being on the brink of death."
The pair's intervention that day earned them a H. Thomas Guerry Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement for Santa Barbara County, which are named after a Santa Barbara police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1970.
This year's awards for extraordinary service were awarded to 18 people Thursday evening, and winners represented the California Highway Patrol, the Santa Barbara County Probation Department, the Sheriff's Department, the District Attorney's Office, and police departments of Lompoc, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and UC Santa Barbara.
Friends and family packed the board room at the County Administration Building to support the award winners.
Several speakers, including Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime president Bob Hart, said the sacrifice of local enforcement to protect the public was at the forefront of people's minds after the mass murder in Isla Vista.
As for Feller and Kamin, they found out later that the man survived, and he even thanked them on the phone for saving his life.
"Now he has another chance to get back on track," Feller said.
Most times, patrol officers don't get a chance to follow up on calls.
"You don't really ever know what happened," he said, adding that it was special to hear the man was doing well.
The pair have been with the department for almost two decades, 17 years for Feller and 18 for Kamin, and both are first-time Guerry Award winners.
"I'm honored, especially considering what Detective Guerry did and what his family has gone through because of the incident," Feller said.
Award winners on Thursday were:
» Officer Christopher Terry of the California Highway Patrol
» Detective Dawn Arviso of the UCSB Police Department
» Officer Lucas Signorelli of the Lompoc Police Department
» Lt. Dan Cohen of the Santa Maria Police Department
» Senior Deputy Probation Officer Jeff McGarey of County Probation
» Detective Brian Larson of the Santa Barbara Police Department
» Sgt. Andy Feller of the Santa Barbara Police Department
» Officer Carl Kamin of the Santa Barbara Police Department
» Officer Beth Lazarus of the Santa Barbara Police Department
» Deputy John McCarthy of the Sheriff's Department
» Lt. Ugo "Butch" Arnoldi of the Sheriff's Department
» Senior Deputy Douglas Jones of the Sheriff's Department
» Deputy Charles Anderson of the Sheriff’s Department
» Deputy Desiree Thome of the Sheriff's Department
» Deputy Daniel Sandu of the Sheriff's Department
» Deputy Jarom Kemp of the Sheriff's Department
» Cadet Giuseppe Arnoldi of the Sheriff's Department
» Jennifer Glimp of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office