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News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current


13th Annual Oceanside Police Department Member Recognition Luncheon


Oceanside CA— Last Wednesday, January 25, 2017, the Oceanside Police Department held their 13th Annual Member Recognition Luncheon honoring officers, staff members and volunteers for their distinguished service in the fourth quarter and for the year, 2016 including OPD Officer of the Year. The 13th annual luncheon, held at the QLN Conference Center, was sponsored at the ‘Platinum Level’ by Oceans Eleven and QLN, at the ‘Silver Level’ by Hydranautics and Mossy Nissan and the ‘Cornerstone of the Community Donor’ was Gilead Science. Lunch was provided by Las Carretas Taco Shop.

Senior Volunteer of the Fourth Quarter

Joan Blazer

Oceanside Police Chief, Frank McCoy, Joan Blazer and Captain Fred Armijo
Oceanside Police Chief, Frank McCoy, Joan Blazer and Captain Fred Armijo

Joan Blazer joined the OPD Senior Volunteer Patrol program in April of 2015. She volunteered 166 hours of her time in the 4th quarter of 2016 and total of 516 hours for the year. In November of 2016, Joan was conducting a ‘You Are Not Alone'(Yana) visit to a woman who is approximately 90-years-old and blind. She discovered that the woman was without heat because her furnace was no longer working. Ms. Blazer took the initiative to obtain a new heater from SDG&E and while waiting for delivery and installation of the new furnace, she obtained blankets, from her peers, for the woman and brought her several hot meals.

Administration Division Employee of the 4th Quarter, 2016

Nita Powell

Chief McCoy, Nita Powell and Captain Sean Marchand
Chief McCoy, Nita Powell and Captain Sean Marchand

Nita Powell has been with the Oceanside Police Department’s Communications Section for close to twenty years. During that time, she has provided quiet and steadfast dedication to her duty and the people in the community of Oceanside. Her confident guidance has helped shape the Communication Section into the well running unit that it is today.

Investigations Division’s Employee of the 4th Quarter, 2016

Mark La Vake

Chief McCoy, Mark La Vake and Captain Tom Aguigui
Chief McCoy, Mark La Vake and Captain Tom Aguigui

In 2013, 13-year-old Melanie Virgen and her 15-year-old friend, Edgar Sanchez were shot to death and two others were wounded at Libby Lake Park. Mark La Vake was the lead investigator and established an unwavering investigative collaborative that led to the arrest of five gang members. The collaborative consisted of more than a dozen local, State, and Federal agencies. La Vake worked closely with the victims family members and the community to keep them informed on the progress of the case. Four of the five defendants were convicted receiving a combined 200 years to life in prison. Mark La Vake was nominated and subsequently selected as the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2016.

Field Operations Division Employee of the Fourth Quarter, 2016

David K. Williams

Chief McCoy, David K. Williams and Captain Fred Armijo

On October 4, 2016, Officer Williams noticed a suspicious vehicle backed into a parking spot at Denny’s Restaurant on Harbor Drive. He contacted the two occupants who admitted to smoking marijuana in the vehicle. A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up five pounds of methamphetamine and one pound of cocaine packaged for delivery. At the time, it was the largest self-initiated seizure of narcotics by a patrol office in the history of the Oceanside Police Department. The record was short-lived however. On November 17, 2016, Officer Williams was patrolling near the same restaurant when he made a traffic stop on a Mitsubishi Endeavor for a suspended registration. The driver was unlicensed and gave evasive answers to simple questions. The driver consented to a search of the vehicle at which time Officer Williams noticed modifications and alterations to the bolts and brackets connecting the seats to the vehicle. During the search, Officer Williams discovered packages under the seats and floorboards and door panels of the SUV. The vehicle was moved to the Border Patrol checkpoint where one hundred and fifty-seven vacuum-sealed and brick packages were found hidden under the carpet of the rear passenger seat as well as inside the rear passenger seat door. The packages contained 152 pounds of cocaine and 197 pounds of meth with an estimated street value of 2.1 million dollars.

Team of the Fourth Quarter 2016

Sgt. Nathanael Brazelton, Det. Tiffany Hogan, Det. Mathew Grindley, Officers Clint Bussey, Joshua Bowman, Austin Esswein, Jason Dantzler, Justin Romano, David K. Williams and Field Evidence Technician Emma Graves are the Team of the Fourth Quarter 2016. The team was recognized for their work in connection with a string of armed convenience store robberies that resulted in the arrest of two 17-year-olds. On October 27th, 2016 at approximately 2:14 am, an alarm call originated from the 7-11, located 711 Oceanside Blvd. An officer was in the area conducting surveillance due to a recent series of armed robberies occurring at convenience stores in Oceanside and Vista. The officer arrived on scene within one minute of the alarm and saw the suspects leaving the area in a vehicle. A hot traffic stop was conducted on the vehicle and the suspects were taken into custody without incident. A loaded handgun, two realistic appearing BB guns, masks, clothing, and a plastic bag were recovered from within the vehicle. Both suspects were linked, by Oceanside Police Detectives, to five armed robberies at the 7-11, located, 711 Oceanside Blvd., one armed robbery at AM/PM located 1501 Melrose Dr., and one armed robbery at the AM/PM located 1244 N. Santa Fe Ave. in Vista. The two suspects eventually confessed to each of the robberies.

Vehicle Theft Officer of the Year-2016

Tyrone Dunn

Chief McCoy, Tyrone Dunn and Captain Tom Aguigui

In our society, our vehicles are a necessity in many cases. The costs associated with the loss of a vehicle aren’t just monetary, there is an emotional cost to the victim. The Vehicle Theft Officer of the Year is awarded to the Officer with the highest number of recovered stolen vehicles in a calendar year which was 13 for Tyrone Dunn. This is the second straight year Officer Dunn has received the award.

DUI Officer of the Year

Clint Bussey

Chief McCoy, Clint Bussey and Captain Armijo

Driving under the influence is not a victimless crime. The danger to public safety on the roadway is immense with drivers that cannot safely control a motor vehicle. The DUI Officer of the Year is Awarded to the Officer that arrests the highest number of individuals found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in a calendar year. Officer Bussey made 13 DUI arrests in 2016.

Daniel Bessant Community Policing Award

Co-recipents: Erik Ellgard and Dulcina Van Sickle

Officer Dan Bessant was slain in the line of duty December 20, 2006. He was assisting a fellow officer with a traffic stop when they were ambushed from over 100 yards away. Officer Bessant was shot and killed. He was known throughout the department for his commitment to the community of Oceanside. Dan was a member of the Neighborhood Policing Team and worked closely with the community to meet their needs. To honor his legacy, the Officer Dan Bessant Community Policing Award was created and goes to the department member, or members, in this case, that displays superior community oriented policing and problem solving efforts in the community.The nominations for this award are provided to the Bessant family for their review. They determine the member that best demonstrates those attributes. This year, the Bessant family was torn between two nominations. Both of these nominees, Detective Erik Ellgard and Crime Prevention Specialist, Dulcina Van Sickle have demonstrated a high level of commitment to the people of Oceanside and were selected for the award.

Officer Tony Zeppetella Memorial Award

Javar Beaver

Chief McCoy, Javar Beaver and Captain Aguigui

Officer Tony Zeppetella was slain in the line of duty June 13, 2003, during a traffic stop on a gang member armed with a handgun that was illegal for him to possess. Officer Zeppetella was on the job for thirteen months when this tragedy happened, and he left a lasting impression on the Oceanside Police Department. Tony was known for his high ideals, strong moral fiber and commitment to the safety of the citizens of Oceanside.
To honor the memory of Officer Zeppetella, the Oceanside Police Department created an award for the Officer that recovers the most illegal firearms in a calendar year. Officer Javar Beaver recovered four illegal weapons in 2016.

Senior Volunteer of the Year-2016

Patricia Travers

Chief McCoy, Patricia Travers and Capt. Armijo

Patricia Travers has been with the Senior Volunteer Patrol since 2013. In 2016, she volunteered 652 hours of her time. On two notable occasions, Patricia Travers dedication to the community was evident. The first occurred in May when she went to visit a 90-year-old woman in the ‘You are not Alone'(YANA) program. During the visit she noticed the woman had a very bad infection in one of her legs. She knew the woman would refuse treatment because of the costs. At the conclusion of her patrol shift, Patricia went back to the woman’s house and convinced her she needed to have her leg checked out. She then drove the woman to a medical care provider for treatment. The second occurred in November when she worked with her partner, Senior Volunteer of the Fourth Quarter, Joan Blazer in obtaining a new furnace for a YANA member.

Volunteer of the Year-2016

Tom Heritage

Volunteer of the Year, Tom Heritage logged more than 900 hours of his time, in 2016, working cold case files for the department. Working closely with detectives and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, his hard work has led to an arrest being warrant issued and a suspect actively being sought in Mexico for a 1994 case. In addition, there are three more cases on the brink of being solved. He has successfully located witnesses that have not been heard from in over twenty years. “His commitment to pursuing justice without compensation truly emulates his dedication to the victims and their families.” said Chief McCoy.

Professional Staff Member of the Year-2016

Amanda Puron

Chief McCoy, Amanda Puron and Captain Marchand

In 2016, Amanda Puron went above and beyond the call of duty in supporting administrative functions that are so desperately needed to insure successful police operations. She began the year assigned to the Special Enforcement Section with the Investigations Division. During the year, she was reassigned to the Administration Division. Although she was reassigned, she continued with her duties at the Special Enforcement Section while learning the duties of her new assignment. On top of those duties, she was tasked with various assignments as Senior Office Specialist including payroll, covering for other Senior Office Specialists and coordination of award ceremonies. “Her continuous attention to detail and flexibility is demonstrated on a daily basis. Her dedication to duty and self-sacrifice to the Oceanside Police Department is a testament to her commitment to the organization,” said Chief McCoy.

Oceanside Police Officer of the Year-2016

Jeanette McDuffee

Chief McCoy with Jeannette McDuffee and Captain Armijo

Jeannette McDuffee joined OPD in January of 2008 after serving four years in the Marine Corps. In addition to her patrol duties, Officer McDuffee has had assignments in the Neighborhood Policing Team and as a Terrorism Liaison Officer. She was selected as the Field Operations Division Employee of the first quarter, 2016. Officer McDuffee’s selection for that award was based, in part, for an incident which occurred on March 1, 2016 where she pursued a vehicle five miles into an agricultural area of Oceanside where it crashed. The driver fled from the vehicle but she wisely stayed with the car and found a violent career criminal and documented gang member still inside the vehicle who had three readily accessible firearms . See that story [here].
Officer McDuffee was nominated again for the same award, Field Operations Division Employee, in the third quarter for her efforts reacting to an emerging crime trend of a male suspect, who was seen on more than one occasion, peeping into the room of an eleven year-old girl in an apartment complex. She coordinated a surveillance of the apartment complex which, on the second night of the surveillance, yielded an arrest of the suspect. McDuffee was nominated twice more, in the third quarter, for the Team of the Quarter Award related to two separate incidents. “You simply do the job of a police officer everyday in a manner that servers as a model for others to emulate,” said Chief McCoy.

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13th Annual Oceanside Police Department Member Recognition Luncheon