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Eight Sheriff’s Deputies Receive Guerry Awards

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office would like to congratulate the eight Sheriff’s deputies who were among the 20 law enforcement professionals who were honored this month with a H. Thomas Guerry Award.

The honors were handed out at ceremony at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisor’s Hearing Room and attended by personnel from local law-enforcement agencies, dignitaries, and family and friends of those being recognized.

The H. Thomas Guerry Award is named after Thomas Guerry, a Santa Barbara Police Department officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1970.

Every year in his memory, the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime recognizes excellence in law enforcement in Santa Barbara County.

This year, seven Sheriff’s deputies received the H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor. Honorees included Sgt. James Zbinden, Sr. Deputy Michael Harris, Deputy Justin DiPinto and Deputy Michael Hollon who were recognized for their resolute actions during a life-threatening incident on June 11, 2016 at Paradise Campground in the Los Padres National Forest.

An ax-wielding camper, who was under the influence of a controlled substance, threatened campers and first responders. He threw axes at friends, battered an elderly camper and assaulted several people including a firefighter and several deputies.

It took deputies more than 10 minutes of struggling with the combative camper to take him into custody. The officers used a number of less lethal force options to resolve the dangerous incident without deadly force.

Sheriff’s Deputy Special Duty Ray Gamboa, Deputy Brice Bruening and Deputy Jesus Gutierrez also received an Guerry Award for Valor.

They were recognized for their courageous response to a vehicle over the side call on Nov. 4, 2016, off Highway 101 at Three Bridges.

The deputies worked with CHP and fire personnel to extricate a female occupant who was trapped in her vehicle which had caught on fire. Their quick-thinking and immediate actions are credited with helping to save the woman’s life.

Chief Deputy Sam Gross was recognized with an H. Thomas Guerry Award for Superior Performance for his 46 years of service to the Sheriff’s Office and the Santa Barbara County community.

During his more than four decades at the Sheriff’s Office, Gross has held numerous assignments and has more than 60 letters of commendations in his personnel file. He is the most senior member of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

During his presentation of the Guerry Award, Sheriff Bill Brown said Gross is well-deserving of this honor due to his unsurpassed devotion to duty.

Brown said, “His commendations reflect his career of caring for people both inside the organization as well as the public he has served. Sam is highly respected in law enforcement circles and is described by many as a mentor and sage counsel.

"His knowledge of the workings of the Sheriff’s Office and county government combined with his network of relationships and the high level of respect which he is accorded with by everyone who knows him make him an invaluable resource,” Brown said.

The Sheriff’s Office thanks the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime for hosting the H. Thomas Guerry Awards and for providing a chance to recognize law-enforcement personnel who've gone above and beyond to protect and serve the community.

— Kelly Hoover for Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.


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