The Laguna Beach Police Department honored its top cops and civilian
employees for 2001 at an awards banquet, held recently at Tivoli Too.
“After 32 years in law enforcement, I couldn’t be more proud of each
and every member of our department -- the volunteers, the officers, the
dispatchers,” Chief James Spreine said.
In all, 21 awards were presented at the annual dinner, attended by
just about every officer not on duty, representatives of the city, Laguna
Beach Fire Department top brass, families of honored officers and
supporters of the department.
The two Exchange Clubs in Laguna Beach sponsor the banquet. The
department selects the award recipients.
Matthew C. August was named Sworn Officer of the Year. Dispatcher
Angela M. Baker was named Civilian Employee of the Year. Non-departmental
civilian Chris Mott was honored for his assistance in creating the
department’s new Web site.
August is the department’s field training officer and occasional watch
commander. He has received more than 35 letters of commendation and
appreciation for job performance and actions above and beyond the call of
duty -- including the Lifesaving Medal for preventing a man from hanging
himself in the city jail.
Dispatcher Baker has been with the department for four years. Baker
has received numerous letters of commendation.
Supervisor Tom Wilson attended the banquet and made presentations to
August and Baker.
“I appreciate, admire and respect what you do and how you do it,”
Bree Burgess Rosen served as master of ceremonies for the dinner and
started one of the running gags of the evening by introducing Wayne
Peterson as the mayor, not former mayor. Later the city manager was
introduced as Ken Peterson -- not that he minded, Frank prefers to stay
out of the limelight. “At least I wasn’t introduced as Supervisor
Peterson,” said Wilson.
Councilwoman Toni Iseman officially represented the city.
“It has been a great year for the department,” she said. “You solved
the 1995 Baskin Robbins homicide and broke up a burglary ring of white
supremacists. But the most important thing, is the sense in town that
Laguna is good place to be, a safe place to be. I want to thank you for
Just what it takes to make the city safe was vividly captured on a
video shown at the banquet.
On Oct. 28, 2001, Officer Robert Gifford and then-Explorer Lance
Larson gave chase to a speeding motorcyclist. In his attempt to flee, the
motorcyclist dumped his bike, which burst into flames. Without
hesitation, Gifford and Larson jumped from their patrol vehicle and
headed toward the flaming motorcycle, which could have exploded at any
Larson tried to douse the fire as Gifford stepped into the flames to
pull the motorcyclist to safety.
Gifford was awarded the Medal of Courage. Larson, who was sworn in
recently as a reserve officer, was awarded the Lifesaving Medal.
Explorer of the Year: John Hedges Retired Seniors Volunteer Program
Service Commendations: Monique Daniel, 1,000 hours; Irving Kaufman, 2,000
hours; Thomas Moore, 4,000 hours.
Reserve Service Commendations: Benjamin Teschner, Paul Bixby and
Ribbons of Commendation: Natalie Leaf, Larry Bammer, Chris Heuberger,
James Cota, Jeffrey Calver, Louise Callus. Medals of Merit: Daniel
Lowery, Robert Romaine and Josephine Quale.