Some saved lives. Some stopped crimes. Some solved crimes.
All were honored.
Local businesses and residents celebrated the work of the local law enforcement at the 31st Annual Los Alamitos Police Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday, and the department, in turn, recognized some of their own.
About 230 people attended the Los Alamitos Area Chamber of Commerce event at the Eagle’s Nest Club House in Cypress.
The department also presented awards to two officers, one member of department personnel and one civilian:
- Officer Kendra Gora netted the title of Officer of the Year for her investigative work.
- Corporal Chris Anderson received the 2012 Medal of Courage for rescuing a drowning man in April last year in Los Alamitos.
- Joseph Pena, a Los Al resident of more than 50 years, won the Policing Through Partnership Award for his help in the arrest and conviction of three alleged thieves.
- Catherine Howard, department secretary, took the Police Employee of the Year Award for her service to the department.
During Anderson’s comments after receiving the Medal of Valor, he thanked Jesus Christ, members of the Los Alamitos Police Department and the families of all the law enforcement personnel.
“The families that are here, the husbands and wives that support the officers in their lives, thank you very much,” Anderson said. “You make our job so much easier.”
Before the awards ceremony, keynote speaker David Singer, a U.S. marshal, urged officers to realize that residents support them.
“Many officers, while they do their job … think that people don’t’ care,” Singer said. “Sometimes they need to be reassured that the vast majority of people out there appreciate what you do.”
He also urged civilians to remember to honor those “who run towards the danger.”
“Every day should be Police Appreciation Day,” Singer said.
Singer, who also served as the Police Chief of Whittier for about five years, said the law enforcement profession is “a dangerous job but it’s a great job.” The recent Christopher Jordan Dorner manhunt was prime example of the dangers officers face in the line of duty, he said.
In that case, he said, no officers “said ‘this is too dangerous, I’m not going in to work today.’”
Councilman Troy Edgar, said the event was especially poignant for him because of one of the winners.
Edgar said he helped swear-in Officer Gora in 2009 on stage at Golden West College right after her graduation from the police academy.
“To see her walking up (to receive the award) was just amazing,” Edgar said.
Rodger Borge, a State Farm realtor in Los Alamitos, said he attended “because these people put their lives on the line for us every single day.”
Borge added that because Los Alamitos is a small community, residents and officers get to support and know each other personally
“Big communities don’t have that opportunity,” Borge said.
Other attendees included Los Councilmen Dean Grose and Richard Murphy, Los Al Mayor Pro Tem Gerri Graham-Mejia, as well as police officers and Police Chiefs from neighboring communities including La Palma, Seal Beach and Cypress.
Event sponsors included. EmCare, Arrowhead Products, Sir Speedy Printing and Marketing, Forest Lawn, Casa Youth Shelter, Precious Life Shelter, Rodger Borge State Farm Insurance, The Gas Company, Norma Wray- Extra Space Storage, Rotary Club of Los Alamitos and Seal Beach, Southland Credit Union, The Olson Company, Alamitos Eye Care, Chang Orthodontics, LeAnna Ferris – State Farm Insurance, Irma Austin, Los Alamitos Unified School District, Ganahl Lumber, Gemini Forest Products, We Care, Pacific Premier Bank and Green Street Interiors.