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HEROES HONORED: Police recognize others who protected, served community


By Dateline staff

UC Davis police cars are now equipped with computers, shown here by Jason Barrera, the department's officer of the year for 2009; and Leticia Garcia-Hernandez, employee of the year. Garcia Hernandez, dispatch supervisor, played a key role in getting the computers installed and teaching officers how to use the computers. ((Karin Higgins/UC Davis))

The UC Davis Police Department last week recognized some heroic role reversals.

Last October, Dillon Herrenschmidt, who works for the Police Department as a protective service officer, delivered a baby in a hallway at the medical center.

Three months earlier, registered nurses John Helmuth and Steve Robinson held a man down as a police officer struggled to handcuff the suspect outside the emergency room.

Herrenschmidt, Helmuth and Robinson were among the honorees on Jan. 29 at the Police Department’s 17th annual Citizen and Employee Appreciation Award Ceremony. Other honorees included employee of the year, Leticia Garcia-Hernandez, and officer of the year, Jason Barrera.

The Police Department presented the awards during a luncheon in a ballroom at the Activities and Recreation Center. Those in attendance included Chancellor Linda Katehi and her husband, Spyros Tseregounis, a lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

The guest speaker was Stan Nosek, who, during his tenure as vice chancellor of the Office of Administration, oversaw the Police Department. He is now leading the chancellor’s Administrative Process Redesign Initiative, as his last duty before retirement.

Nosek lauded the Police Department for its emphasis on connecting with the campus community, and he said, “It’s important to say thank you.”

In turn, the department thanked Nosek for his support of the department, and gave him a UC Davis Centennial police badge encased in plastic.

Systemwide award

Herrenschmidt received a UC Police Systemwide Distinguished Service Commendation for his baby-birthing duty Oct. 18.

When the expectant mother and a friend arrived at the hospital just before 1 a.m. that day, there was no indication of urgency. They asked for directions to labor and delivery, and started on their way.

A short time later, the friend contacted Herrenschmidt at the front desk, saying that the expectant mother had gone into labor, and that she was in too much pain to continue to labor and delivery.

Instead, she climbed onto an unattended gurney — where Herrenschmidt found her. By that time, her baby’s head had started to emerge from the womb.

Herrenschmidt radioed to the Communications Center, then followed dispatcher Matt Shenk’s instructions to deliver the baby. Herrenschmidt used one of his shoelaces to tie off the umbilical cord, then placed the baby girl on her mother’s stomach — while awaiting for emergency room personnel.

Nursing staff later delivered the news that mother and daughter were doing just fine.

Citizen Appreciation Awards

The Policed Department gave Citizen Appreciation Awards to RNs Helmuth and Robinson for their “immediate and unselfish acts” in assisting officer Justin Brewer in his arrest of a suspect whom Brewer described as intoxicated and who allegedly engaged in a physical fight with Brewer.

Police said the altercation occurred July 17 outside the medical center’s emergency room, and that Helmuth and Robinson came to Brewer’s aid despite hearing a bystander yell that the suspect had a knife.

Helmuth and Robinson held the suspect down, allowing Brewer to finish handcuffing him.

The Police Department also honored four people for their work in organizing last year’s rededication ceremony for the campus’s Faithful Partner memorial for California police dogs.

Two of the Citizen Appreciation Awards went to Celeste Borelli and Vickie Gustafson of the School of Veterinary Medicine; Borelli is the management services officer in the development unit and Gustafson is a development assistant.

The other awards went to Andrea Contreras and Louise Velasquez, representing the Western States Police Canine Association. Contreras works for the Manteca Police Department and Velasquez helps with fundraising for K-9 units.

“Not only did they organize all the logistics, but they created poster boards with all the service dogs being recognized, contacted all the handlers whose partners were being recognized, and worked to develop a memorial kiosk that is on permanent display near the site,” Lt. Nader Oweis said in nominating the foursome.

“Without them, this event would not have come to fruition; and it is a pleasure to honor these outstanding citizens today.”

Chief’s Appreciation Award

Larry Henderson, one of the department’s unarmed protective service officers at the medical center, received the Chief’s Appreciation Award for assisting in the capture of a man after he allegedly attacked a woman and her 1-year-old child on Dec. 5.

Police said the attack occurred at the tower lobby entrance as the woman and child entered the hospital. The suspect struck the woman, according to police, causing her to fall and lose hold of her child, whom she had scooped into her arms when she saw the suspect approaching.

The child fell onto the ground, and the suspect continued yelling and walked away.

Henderson heard the commotion and went to investigate. He quickly assessed the situation, updated the Communications Center by radio, then followed the suspect along Stockton Boulevard.

As the suspect approached the health system’s Glassrock Building, Henderson alerted the protective services officer there to lock down the building.

“PSO Larry Henderson was instrumental in the capture of this violent suspect,” Lt. Matt Carmichael said.

Employee of the year

Police officials described Garcia-Hernandez as a truly intricate part of the Communications Center and the Police Department as a whole.

Garcia-Hernandez is the dispatch supervisor, and, said Carmichael, her commitment to keeping the Communications Center running smoothly is unparalleled.

Garcia-Hernandez is the department’s resident expert on the computer-aided dispatch system; she worked tirelessly to get the WarnMe system in place and operational; and she played an instrumental role in the installation of computers in all police cruisers, and teaching officers how to use the computers.

Additionally, she has been an effective instructor and resource for officers during the introduction and implementation phase of the field-based reporting system.

“Leticia’s behind-the-scenes efforts underscore her commitment to the Police Department and, more important, to the public safety profession,” Carmichael said.

Officer of the year

Barrera is a self-starter with a positive attitude, police officials said, someone who without hesitation traveled to UCLA and UC Merced to assist in law enforcement when those campuses asked for mutual aid.

During 2009, Barrera handled approximately 2,000 service calls, including 200-plus assist calls at the UC Davis Medical Center’s main hospital, more than 400 campus security checks and 350-plus traffic enforcement stops.

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