The Exchange Club of Laguna Beach honored the best of the best in the Laguna Beach Police Department at a special breakfast May 14 at Tivoli Terrace.
Sgt. Jason Kravetz presented the Officer of the Year Award to Officer Jason Farris, and Cathy Berg received her second Civilian Employee of the Year Award. The awards are for 2008.
Farris is the department’s Community Outreach officer, charged with seeking out and contacting homeless people to provide assistance.
Farris started with the department as a dispatcher in 2002, became a reserve officer in 2003 and a full-fledged police officer in 2004, according to the department.
As “homeless liaison” for the department, Farris has succeeded in reuniting homeless people with family, and has been able to get some people into drug and alcohol programs, according to the department.
In one notable instance, Farris discovered a man who had been living in a cave in Laguna Canyon for the past 20 years, coming out once a month to purchase food.
Farris visited the man, gave him his watch, and made an appointment to meet him.
The man kept the appointment, and Farris was able to help the man get medical, financial and food aid.
Berg was lauded for excellence in running the department’s property and evidence room, which has become a model of efficiency that has been noted by judges and district attorneys, according to the department.
Berg has been with the department for 15 years, starting as a records clerk in 1994.
She was soon promoted to the position of property and evidence officer, handling and processing thousands of pieces of evidence each year.
Berg has received 11 letters of commendation and has been named “Employee of the Quarter” in 1994, 1995, 2003 and 2005, as well as receiving the Medal of Merit and a Special Olympics Ribbon of Commendation.
Previously, she was Civilian Employee of the Year in 2000.
Joey Masella honored
The Exchange Club also presented a Special Appreciation Certificate to the parents of Joey Masella, who died in 2006 at the age of 14 of a rare skin disease, Epidermolysis Bullosa.
Joey was given a Medal of Honor in 2003 for his courage in facing the disease and excelling in his life — becoming student body president, participating in sports and music, and enjoying many friends.
CINDY FRAZIER is city editor of the Coastline Pilot. She can be contacted at (949) 380-4321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.