Officer of the Year — Larry Vietz, motor
Vietz has been a member of the Lodi Police Department since 1991
and was one of the first members of its street crime unit.
One of his supervisors said he is “reliable, dependable and
always comes to work early,” Samuels said.
Coworkers said Vietz is a leader who set an example by writing
the third highest number of traffic citations despite working the
graveyard shift. Samuels said most of the traffic citations come at
the end of that shift.
“That’s when most people are winding down, and it sounds like
you were winding up,” Samuels said.
Vietz, a former Marine, has worked in the LPD’s traffic unit for
more than eight years. He earned the Lifesaving Award in 2007 for
negotiating with and preventing a man from hanging himself.
Vietz has done presentations at Lodi High School’s driver’s
education classes explaining to the students what they should do
when stopped by the police.
Vietz was also the national secretary for the Iron Spartans
motorcycle club and helped raise more than $40,000 for families of
fallen officers, vests for canines, and equipment for SWAT
Employee of the Year — Jennifer Bender
Bender has been with the department for 13 years and manages the
staff for the Animal Services department. Bender is credited with
streamlining the process for the delivery of medical treatment to
sick animals and lowering the number of animals being held at the
“She has been praised by coworkers for leadership and her
ability to formulate direction for the shelter and shelter staff,”
Bender is known for her efficiency and ability to calm stressed
civilians who are looking for a lost animal, Piombo said.
Bender has also created a new financial accounting system for
the shelter and helped with bringing People Assisting Lodi Shelter
into the day-to-day operations of the shelter. Bender has also
rewritten the department’s wildlife policies and completed a survey
for the Animal Protection League.
Lifesaving Award — Officer Robert Rench
Rench is earning the award for his quick reactions that saved
the life of fellow officer Heather Metcalf. On Oct. 14, 2010,
Metcalf was upstairs at the Lodi Police Department when she choked
on a piece of hard candy. As the candy blocked her airway, Metcalf
went downstairs to find someone to help her.
Metcalf reached the back lot of the department and found Rench
in his patrol car about to leave for the day; he was the only car
in the lot.
Metcalf gave the signal for choking — arms folded across her
chest — and he immediately got out of his car to help. He began
dislodging the candy by hitting her on the back. Although Metcalf
turned blue and was beginning to pass out from lack of oxygen,
Rench was able to keep her conscious and dislodge the candy.
After being able to sit down and catch her breath, Metcalf went
back into the department and found no one else around. If it
weren’t for Rench, Metcalf reasoned, the situation could’ve become
very ugly, Piombo said.
“We expect a lot out of police officers, but we’re all human,
and you just don’t know how someone is going to react, and
obviously Officer Rench reacted appropriately,” Samuels said.
Rick Cromwell Award — Officer Shad
The traffic unit decides on this award, and it isn’t given out
every year, Capt. J.P. Badel said.
It is named in honor of Rick Cromwell, a motor officer who died
when a vehicle pulled out in front of his motorcycle in December
1998. It is given to an employee or volunteer who promotes traffic
safety, Badel said.
Canestrino has worked in the department for 14 years.
“He rigorously works traffic enforcement throughout his shift,”
Canestrino volunteers to work as many specialized DUI
enforcement operations as possible. In 2010, he arrested 39
suspects for driving under the influence, the most in the
He is also a member of the accident investigation team and has
valuable knowledge about mechanics, Badel said.
“It is very unusual for a department of our size to have
somebody with expertise to go through a vehicle with a fine-toothed
comb and say this brake light contributed to this accident or this
did or this did,” Samuels said.
Meritorious Service — Don Roe, Partner
Roe has been a Partner with the Lodi Police Department since
1993 and received the Volunteer of the Year award in 1998.
“You are more senior than many of the officers in the police
department,” Samuels joked.
Roe assists in the department’s safe driving course and trains
new volunteers on radio procedures.
He is involved with numerous crime prevention programs like
Every 15 Minutes and National Night Out. The California Law
Enforcement Volunteer of the Year for 2007 has also received the
presidential lifetime achievement award for volunteerism.
“He has been instrumental in bridging the gap that can exist —
but no longer exists — between volunteers, officers and staff,”
Meritorious Service — Cpl. Val Chaban
Chaban has been with the Lodi Police Department since 1987 and a
corporal for the last 10 years. Chaban was a SWAT officer for 10
years and a training officer for 10 as well.
He is a former member of the county’s drug task force, CRACNET,
and the LPD’s narcotics unit.
He has received the LPD’s Officer of the Year and Lifesaving
Award, as well as the California Highway Patrol’s 10851 award for
working to reduce vehicle thefts.
Chaban is responsible for all the department’s in-service
training, including firearms training and emergency vehicle
Samuels said Chaben has probably trained more officers than
anyone in the department.
“It is no surprise the committee selected you for this award,
and it is very well-deserved,” he said.
Chaban also volunteers as a youth football and basketball coach
for the Boosters of Boys/Girls Sports Organization (BOBS).
Volunteer of the Year Award — Stan Sogsti
Sogsti has been a Partner with the Lodi Police Department since
1999. He volunteers every Friday night, assisting officers with
traffic, towing and errands.
Special Services Manager Jeanie Biskup, who coordinates the
Partners Program, said Sogsti is an “absolute pleasure to work
Sogsti is the main coordinator of the volunteers for the DUI
checkpoints also handles their assignments and training. Sogsti
helped update the parking citation training manual, as wells as
design a towing manual used to train Partners and Cadets on towing
He received Volunteer of the Year from Allstate Insurance in
2001 and is the photographer at the department’s special
Sogsti has provided CPR and First-Aid training to most of the
staff and also for family members of LPD employees.