Awards were doled out and accolades given Thursday afternoon as members of the Fairfield Police Department gathered for the annual Employee Recognition Reception to honor the hard work of both department members and citizens and thank them for a job well done.
In addition to the department's command staff, officers and their families, the ceremony, held at Willow Hall, also drew a few community members, fire personnel, city staff and Assemblyman Jim Frazier, who shook hands and helped hand out awards.
"It's no secret that city law enforcement is our first line of defense, but it's also key and critical to supporting economic development," Frazier said, before personally thanking the department on the behalf of the California State Assembly for its tireless efforts.
Officer Cade Beckwith, a veteran of 14 years with seven prior years as a cadet and community service officer, walked away with Officer of the Year honors after being tapped by his peers for his performance in 2012.
"Not only is his day-to-day work exceptional, he takes additional time to train to help just make everything better," Fairfield Police Chief Walt Tibbet said after the ceremony. "He spends his whole day not only doing an exceptional job for the community but tries to make the department a better place. On top of that, he has just really shown such an interest in the youth of this community with his work at the Public Safety Academy and the PAL program, and it's always just a joy for me."
However, Tibbet noted, what was special about Thursday's award presentation is that Beckwith's nomination came from his peers, and it was those he works with who acknowledged the positive impact he made last year.
"You can't have more than a role model in terms of commitment and professionalism, so it's just really exciting to see," he said.
The department's other 2012 employees of the year included Manager of the Year Sgt. Kevin Carella, who spent the first six months of the year on patrol, where he was commended for his consistency, fairness and honesty. He joined the investigations bureau in July, where he continued to serve until staffing shortages forced reorganization. Carella was moved to Family Violence Unit supervisor, where he fills the role of team leader for the K-9 Unit and one of the department's public information officers, in addition to his involvement in the Fairfield PAL program and extensive community involvement.
Other honorees include Dispatcher of the Year Alisha Swaim, Employee of the Year Brenda Collier and Casey Altman, who walked away with Explorer of the Year honors. Officer Joe Perry was named Police Officer of the Quarter, while Crime Prevention Specialist Jeff Conner came away with Employee of the Quarter for the same period.
Several citizens were also commended for their role in keeping the city safe, including Mary Coleman and Jonathan Barr, who played big roles in bringing about the arrest of a man who tried to force his way into a local day-care facility. Coleman, who ran the center, was able to help the children escape to safety, while Barr, a Comcast employee working next door, helped them seek shelter inside the store.
"It's really neat to be able to recognize some of the good folks and encourage members of our community as described here as really exceptional," Tibbet said. "It should be inspirational to the whole city as well as certainly inspirational to the men and women of the police department to see that kind of assistance."
Follow Staff Writer Catherine Bowen at Twitter.com/cbowen4