Police honor top cops, civilians

Barbara Diamond

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,”

Wilson said.

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

Kathleen Duperoy.

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.