Officers and their families gathered at Carnegie Forum to celebrate the annual Law Enforcement Recognition Ceremony. At the event, officers and residents were honored for their contributions to the community.
As Lodi Police Chief Tod Patterson addressed an eager audience, he requested that the ceremony begin with a moment of silence in tribute of California Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Licon, who was struck and killed by a drunken driver during traffic on the Highway 15’s right shoulder in Lake Elsinore.
“People take for granted the risk that officers take in the job that they do,” Lodi City Manager Steve Schwabauer said.
Fifteen officers and three volunteers were recognized for the positive effect their contributions have made in the community. Their commitment to keeping people safe was highlighted at the ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
Following a year that logged the highest number of homicides in Lodi’s history, the Unit Citation was given to the department’s Investigation Unit, which solved seven of the nine homicides in 2018.
“Despite being short-staffed, their level of teamwork and dedication led to a 78% solvency rate,” Patterson said.
Throughout the year, officers were rotated from the unit back to patrol. New members, including new supervisors, were welcomed to the division. The collaboration among the officers led to a successful year for the division.
“I am lucky to be in my position. The communication and camaraderie felt in this group is unbelievable,” Lt. Shad Canestrino said.
Detective Daniel Bristow, who was recognized as a member of the Investigation Unit, was also recognized as Officer of the Year for his involvement in investigating a residential honey oil lab explosion in December 2018.
Bristow also successfully identified and arrested five suspects — including residents who had moved out of state — for their suspected involvement in one of the most difficult homicides of last year.
“This one case, in particular, was a difficult one due to the lack of evidence and suspects. The case was gang-related and Dan worked with the District Attorney’s office to secure a special warrant to make the arrests for this case,” Patterson said.
Bristow thanked his family, and colleagues for the nomination and was proud to receive the award.
“It means a lot to have been nominated and to receive this award,” Bristow said.
Bristow volunteered with the department and interned while in college before joining as an officer. He embodies the character of a police officer, Patterson said.
However, when it came to volunteering, there was no one more involved in the process than Volunteer of the Year recipient Mary Eggers, who serves as a Police Partner and has dedicated 2,243 hours to the job, according to Patterson.
Eggers’ background is in education. That background aided in the creation of the Stranger Danger curriculum and awareness assemblies that have been held throughout Lodi Unified School District.
“Mary completed 11 training sessions in Lodi elementary schools,” Patterson said.
Eggers said she felt inspired by the opportunity to raise awareness about predators on and near school campuses. She has worked to adapt the curriculum for the youngest and most vulnerable students in Lodi Unified, Patterson said.
She has written a book, directed skits and written a song for students to learn, he said.
“No one is important on their own,” Eggers said. “This is an effort shared by all the Partners who have all stepped forward to help, and it is because of all of them that I could do this.”
Humility was the theme of many of the speeches given by officers, with Cpl. Matthew Latino setting the stage. He took a moment to recognize members of the community when he was announced as the Meritorious Service Award recipient.
Latin was nominated for his involvement in the department’s annual Christmas Tree Giveaway. He secured a donation of 200 Christmas tree stands and negotiated with stores to receive a discounted rate for the purchase of trees.
“It feels selfish to accept this award on behalf of the community which has helped to make this giveaway possible. Instead, I would like to thank the community for their involvement, and the Dispatchers Association, who raised $500 in one night for the purchase of trees,” Latino said.
Patterson echoed the sentiment and thanked the community for their tremendous support and their involvement in keeping Lodi safe.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our community and everyone here, especially our families,” he said.
Lee Patterson, who served as a Lodi motor police officer and is the father of Chief Tod Patterson, was recognized alongside Steve Carillo with the Chief of Police Award. The pair was recognized for their service to the department and their continued engagement with the precinct.
“Between the two of us, we have about 45 years of service in the department and we both have children on the force, who serve to make this town what it is,” Lee Patterson said.
Chief Tod Patterson also recognized Animal Services Officer Jordan Kranich as Employee of the Year for his work to bring attention to the Lodi Animal Shelter, and his creative ideas to help find homes for the shelter’s animals.
Officer Tayla-Ann Mattos received the Life Saving Award for performing CPR on a woman who had attempted suicide, and Lodi High School Resource Officer Nick Welton received the Meritorious Service Award helping direct and coach students on the Lodi High Bass Team.