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Law Enforcement’s Bravest Honored at H. Thomas Guerry Awards

Sixteen members of county’s law enforcement community recognized for valor, superior performance

Police Services Coordinator Sadie Lewman accepts a superior performance award for exemplary work in a seemingly never-ending list of duties and responsibilities within the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Police Services Coordinator Sadie Lewman accepts a superior performance award for exemplary work in a seemingly never-ending list of duties and responsibilities within the Santa Barbara Police Department. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

It was as if a movie script had come to life.

Last July, Sgt. Mike McGrew and Officer Bryce Ford responded to a domestic-violence suspect who had fled the scene in an RV.

The Santa Barbara Police Department officers attempted to engage the man, who had barricaded himself in the RV and cut his own throat before attempting to drive away down Anacapa Street.

Ford tasered the man through his window, giving McGrew the opportunity to reach into the RV and grab his arm. The man was still able to put the car in gear and rammed the police cars and barriers set up to block his escape, running over and breaking McGrew’s foot in the process.

Ford was dragged by the RV and thrown off during its escape when it hit a wall. McGrew drove behind the RV past the nine traffic collisions it subsequently caused and apprehended the man after the RV stalled.

McGrew and Ford received H. Thomas Guerry Awards for Valor Wednesday from the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime — McGrew for the second time in his career.

“These very prestigious and honorable awards have become a tradition and a part of Santa Barbara County law enforcement history,” Sheriff Bill Brown told the standing-room-only crowd at the County Administration Building.

Ten other members of the county’s law enforcement community received awards for superior performance for a wide array of duties and activities, from years of passionately administering department programs to prosecuting gang members to saving lives in the field.

Officer Bryce Ford, left, and Sgt. Mike McGrew received valor awards. They ‘selflessly put their safety in jeopardy in an attempt to protect the public from danger’ when a suicidal domestic assault suspect was attempting to escape police barriers on Anacapa Street in an RV Click to view larger
Officer Bryce Ford, left, and Sgt. Mike McGrew received valor awards. They ‘selflessly put their safety in jeopardy in an attempt to protect the public from danger’ when a suicidal domestic assault suspect was attempting to escape police barriers on Anacapa Street in an RV (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

UC Santa Barbara Police Department Chief Dustin Olson honored Sgt. Rob Romero for, among other duties and accomplishments, recruiting “very high-caliber men and women who come in through the front door with vast experience,” facilitating a cadre of personnel who virtually match the demographic make-up of the UCSB and Isla Vista communities.

Sheriff’s Department deputies Ruben Esparza, Brett White, and Bill Borneman were recognized for rescuing a child pinned underneath a crashed car at a Santa Maria school.

“I’ve been through a lot of high-profile scenes, and I’ve seen so many of these heroes — over and over, the same ones — not hesitating for a second to jump in to save a life,” said Mark D’Arelli, commander of the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Barbara area.

Deputies Brian Flick and Todd Lefemine, Senior Deputy Neil Gowing, and Sgt. Brian Dickey — all of the county Sheriff’s Department — joined McGrew and Ford in receiving valor awards.

Flick was recognized for a November incident in which he conversed with a man at a Buellton gas station who had poured gasoline over himself and the area immediately around him and wielded a lighter.

His colleagues Lefemine, Gowing, and Dickey coordinated the crisis-intervention and safety efforts and aided Flick in bringing the situation to a safe and uneventful end.

Presiding over the ceremony was Roger Aceves, a Goleta city councilman and Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime board member.

The awards are given in honor of SBPD detective Thomas Guerry, who was killed in the line of duty in 1970. The first awards were given four months after his death, and in the intervening 47 years, 533 officers from a dozen departments have received awards, said Jane Grand, Guerry’s widow.

The ceremony came after a press conference with the valor award recipients at the county courthouse arch, and was followed by a free dinner for ceremony attendees at the Cabrillo Arts Center.

The superior performance recipients were as follows:

» Senior Deputy D.A. Kimberly Siegel, Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office

» Senior Deputy Bill Borneman, county Sheriff’s Dept.

» Deputy Ruben Esparza, Sheriff’s Dept.

» Deputy Brett White, Sheriff’s Dept.

» Detective Dan Tagles, SBPD

» Police Services Coordinator Sadie Lewman, SBPD

» Detective Andrew White, Lompoc Police Dept.

» Officer Jonathan Gutierrez California, Santa Barbara California Highway Patrol

» Senior Deputy Probation Officer Duane Erdman, Santa Barbara County Probation Dept.

» Sgt. Rob Romero, UC Santa Barbara Police Dept.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Officer Jonathan Gutierrez received a superior performance award for outstanding work as the CHP’s Santa Barbara public information officer, and as a coordinator of CHP’s outreach programs. He was nominated by the CHP’s SB area commander, Mark D’Arelli, and is shaking Sheriff Bill Brown’s hand. Click to view larger
Officer Jonathan Gutierrez received a superior performance award for outstanding work as the CHP’s Santa Barbara public information officer, and as a coordinator of CHP’s outreach programs. He was nominated by the CHP’s SB area commander, Mark D’Arelli, and is shaking Sheriff Bill Brown’s hand. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

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