press release - 05111702

H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office recipients: Deputy Jesus Gutierrez, Deputy Brice Bruening, Deputy Ray Gamboa, Sgt. James Zbinden, Deputy Justin DiPinto, Sr. Deputy Michael Harris  (not pictured, Deputy Michael Hollon)



11 of the 12 Guerry Award for Valor recipients



H. Thomas Guerry Superior Performance Award Recipient, Chief Deputy Sam Gross



Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime secretary and former wife of Thomas Guerry, Jane Grand,  addresses Guerry Award audience at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisor’s Hearing Room.



Chief Sam Gross receiving his Guerry Award from Sheriff Bill Brown



Sheriff Brown presents Sr. Deputy Harris, Sgt. Zbinden and Deputy DiPinto with their Guerry Awards for Valor.



Sheriff Brown with both Sheriff’s Office and CHP Guerry Medal of Valor recipients from November 2016 inciden

Sheriff's Office Congratulates the 2017 Guerry Award Recipients Including Eight Sheriff's Deputies


Santa Barbara - May 11th, 2017


The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office would like to congratulate the eight Sheriff’s deputies who were among the 20 law enforcement professionals who were honored yesterday, May 10, 2017, with a prestigious H. Thomas Guerry Award. The honors were handed out at ceremony held at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisor’s Hearing Room and attended by personnel from local law enforcement agencies, local dignitaries as well as family and friends of those being recognized. 


The H. Thomas Guerry Award is named after Thomas Guerry, a Santa Barbara Police Department Officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1970.  Every year in his memory, the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime recognizes excellence in law enforcement in Santa Barbara County.


This year, seven Sheriff’s deputies received the H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor. The honorees included Sgt. James Zbinden, Sr. Deputy Michael Harris, Deputy Justin DiPinto and Deputy Michael Hollon who were recognized for their resolute actions during a life-threatening incident on June 11, 2016 at Paradise Campground in the Los Padres National Forest.  An ax-wielding camper, who was under the influence of a controlled substance, threatened campers and first responders.  The subject threw axes at friends, battered an elderly camper and assaulted several people including a firefighter and several deputies.  It took deputies more than ten minutes of struggling with the extremely combative camper to take him into custody.  They used a number of less lethal force options to resolve the dangerous incident without deadly force.  


Sheriff’s Deputy Special Duty Ray Gamboa, Deputy Brice Bruening and Deputy Jesus Gutierrez also received an H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor.  They were recognized for their courageous response to a vehicle over the side call on November 4, 2016 off Highway 101 at “Three Bridges”.  The deputies worked with CHP and fire personnel to extricate a female occupant who was trapped in her vehicle which had caught on fire.  Their quick-thinking and immediate actions are credited with helping to save the woman’s life. 


Chief Deputy Sam Gross was recognized with an H. Thomas Guerry Award for Superior Performance for his 46 years of service to the Sheriff’s Office and the Santa Barbara County community.  During his more than four decades at the Sheriff’s Office, Chief Gross has held numerous assignments and has more than 60 letters of commendations in his personnel file.  He is the most senior member of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.


During his presentation of the Guerry Award, Sheriff Bill Brown said Chief Gross is well deserving of this honor due to his unsurpassed devotion to duty.  He said, “His commendations reflect his career of caring for people both inside the organization as well as the public he has served.  Sam is highly respected in law enforcement circles and is described by many as a mentor and sage counsel.  His knowledge of the workings of the Sheriff’s Office and county government combined with his network of relationships and the high level of respect which he is accorded with by everyone who knows him make him an invaluable resource.”


The Sheriff’s Office wants to thank the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime for putting on the H. Thomas Guerry Awards each year and for providing an opportunity to recognize law enforcement personnel who have gone above and beyond to protect and serve their community. 



For Media Inquires Contact PIO Kelly Hoover


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