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SIMI VALLEY : State VFW Honors Police Detective

Last year’s Simi Valley Police Officer of the Year has become this year’s California Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in the eyes of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The VFW named Simi Valley Detective Gene Hostetler winner of the statewide honor, putting him in contention for the J. Edgar Hoover Gold Medal in a nationwide competition that will be concluded this summer.

“It’s a great honor; I’m really happy about it,” said Hostetler, 45, a 22-year veteran who joined the Simi Valley department in 1982. “It’s something to be proud of.”

Hostetler will travel to the statewide VFW convention in Riverside in June to receive his award, which carries a $500 cash prize, said Dick Hlebasko, chairman of VFW Post 10049 in Simi Valley.

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Hostetler and 19 other contestants from around California submitted scrapbooks to the VFW containing copies of their resumes, training certificates, commendations and newspaper clippings detailing their careers, said Chuck Holden, the group’s state chairman for honoring law officers and firefighters.

“He had everything going for him,” Holden said.

Holden said the VFW judges were impressed by Hostetler’s detective work and by the breadth of his career, which began in 1972 with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Holden said judges were also impressed that Hostetler organized baseball games between Simi Valley officers and residents of South-Central Los Angeles after the 1992 riots, which followed the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney G. King.


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