Chief Jamie Field awards officers during a lunchtime ceremony at the History Club of Los Gatos. (submitted)

Police officers and civilians were honored for going above the call of duty during an official luncheon attended by more than 100 people on Oct. 6.

The Los Gatos Monte-Sereno Police Foundation event, held at the History Club of Los Gatos, bestowed accolades for recovering thousands of dollars in Apple products, working with homeless people and for saving lives.

“We’re standing here in awe of the bravery and expertise of these people,” said Patti Perry, a LGMSPF board member, commending Chief Jamie Field for inviting the community to hear the details behind the awards. “She went through all of the cool stories.”

Meritorious Conduct Awards, which go to employees or volunteers who demonstrate stellar performance during an assignment of great responsibility, went to Sgt. Katherine Mann, Detective Mike Birley, Records Lead Yolanda Lira and Community Service Officer Evan Abate.

Perry said her interest was particularly piqued when it came to the The Merit Award, which is reserved for people who exhibit outstanding performance in unusual, complicated or hazardous conditions, or over an extended duration.

That’s because Officers Allexis Belligan, Todd Flemming and Riley Frizzell and Sgt. Logan Howard were recognized for the arrest of suspected thieves after thousands of dollars of electronics were stolen from the Walnut Creek Apple Store.

Field told the Los Gatan the officers collaborated with East Bay officials to respond rapidly when the property crime occurred in July.

Within an hour LGMSPD officials had entered license plate data into the Los Gatos camera system’s database.

And an hour after that, the officers were able to apprehend five suspects—and two vehicles—without having to resort to forceful arrest tactics, she added.

Chief Jamie Field
Chief Jamie Field. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

“That’s a lot to work through in terms of paperwork,” she said. “This team was able to navigate that.”

LGMSPD even dispatched an officer to the Apple Store on North Santa Cruz Avenue in case the thieves tried to strike again, Field said.

Vice Mayor Maria Ristow, who was standing in for Mayor Rob Rennie who was unable to attend the event, said she, too, was impressed by the conduct of these law enforcers.

“They found a ghost gun,” she said, referring to one of the firearms confiscated alongside tens of thousands of dollars in Apple merchandise. “They were able to safely apprehend these criminals.”

Ristow said the arrest sends the message that Los Gatos means business when it comes to using surveillance technology to catch bad actors.

“I think it’s probably diverted and prevented crimes,” she said of the Flock Safety license plate readers that helped Los Gatos officers crack the case. “They only keep the data for 30 days.”

Ristow said she really enjoyed the midday ceremony.

“I think our police department is integral to our community,” she said, adding an event like this serves to build trust with residents. “I think it’s also a good chance for our community to show its support for the police department.”

The Police Commendation Award went to Officer Zach Low and Officer Delgado.

This award is for those who excel during work carrying great personal safety risks.

The Lifesaving Award was earned by both Officer Ben Taylor and Officer Riley Frizzell.

The death-defying results must be backed up by documentation in order for a recipient to be eligible.

Frizzell was also surprised with a California Highway Patrol award for his work recovering stolen vehicles.

The officer, who has been with the department for just over a year, located 12 stolen vehicles—including six which were still occupied (leading to six arrests).

He credited Los Gatos’ plate reading tech for being able to notch that double-digit figure, but notes it’s still up to humans to locate the suspects.

CHP award
Frizzell received a California Highway Patrol award for recovering stolen vehicles. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Frizzell says he doesn’t really like being the center of attention, but says it is nice to be honored.

“I’m just doing my job,” he said. “I like helping people. I like solving problems.”

Sgt. Bill Hoyt was honored with the Civic Achievement Award for his work setting up the Flock plate readers around town, and for working with homeless residents.

The award goes to people who show unselfish devotion to community members or who help shine a positive light on the town.

And the Special Recognition Award went to the Disaster Aid Response Team (DART), which Field called a “force multiplier.”

Only those who bring favorable recognition to the agency can have this honor bestowed on them.

“It’s their 40th year,” she said. “They help out with a lot of our special events.”

Don Stillwell, a police VIP Program volunteer since 2002, was honored with the Civic Achievement Award.

Field said he was being recognized for walking a total of 5,800 miles between Campbell and Lexington Hills as part of his community service.

“That’s the distance to New York and back,” she said, adding Stillwell handed out 5,685 welcome packets to new residents in that time. “And he’s 92 years old.”

The department will hold its community police graduation ceremony Oct. 27 in Council Chambers.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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