press release - 09191302

Sheriff's Office Honorees


Sheriff's Office Honorees

Sheriff's Office Holds Annual Awards Ceremony


Santa Barbara - September 19th, 2013

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office employees gathered at Earl Warren Showgrounds today, September 19, 2013, for the agency’s annual Department Awards Luncheon.  Sponsored by the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse, the ceremony followed the Attorney General’s Zone Meeting and Awards Ceremony, which was held earlier in the day at the same location. Some of the same Sheriff’s personnel were honored at both events.  The Department Awards recognize sworn officers, professional staff and citizens alike for exceptional performance.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown had the honor of handing out the awards and said, "The men and women of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office perform outstanding work each and every day, but sometimes what they do is deserving of special recognition. Today we honor those members of our agency, and two members of our community, who have exhibited extraordinary bravery, dedication to duty and selfless service to others."

The agency’s rarely awarded Medal of Valor went to Senior Deputy Chris Gotschall, who also received an H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor in May and today an Attorney General’s award.  Senior Deputy Gottschall was recognized for his bravery and resolute action stemming from an incident in October of 2012.  Sr. Deputy Gotschall responded, alone, to a shots fired call.  After warning innocent bystanders to evacuate the area he was confronted by and shot an armed suspect who brandished a loaded handgun. His actions potentially saved many lives.

There were an unprecedented number of officer-involved shootings in Santa Barbara County in 2012, and two other Sheriff’s Deputies were recognized for their bravery during one such encounter. Sgt. Rob Wilkinson and Sergeant (then Senior Deputy) Marc Hammill were presented with Meritorious Service Awards for their actions during an incident at a residence in the Santa Maria area in April of 2011. They were confronted by a male suspect who had displayed irrational behavior and threatened the deputies with a large concrete paving brick.  During a violent attempt to take the suspect into custody, Deputy Hammill was struck in the head with the brick, sustaining serious injuries.  When the suspect then attacked the deputies with a wooden chair, he was shot and killed. Both Wilkinson and Hammill were recognized for the leadership and courage they exhibited during this life-threatening encounter.

Custody Sergeant Timothy Morgan, who also received an Attorney General’s Award today, received the Meritorious Service Award for the way he handled a viscous attack by an inmate he had transported to court in October of 2011.  In a pre-meditated attack, the inmate used a homemade instrument to stab Custody Sgt. Morgan in the head. Custody Sgt. Morgan was recognized for his ability to fight off and subdue the inmate and for his dedication to return to work that same day after receiving medical treatment at a hospital.

Custody Deputy Christina Ascedo was given a Meritorious Service Award for helping save the lives of two inmates, on two separate occasions in 2012, when the inmates were discovered in their cells not breathing.  In both cases, Custody Deputy Ascedo applied life saving measures until paramedics arrived. Both inmates survived as a result of Custody Deputy Ascedo’s actions. She was recognized for her swift response and dedication to the welfare of others.

Deputy Julio Gutierrez, also recognized today with an Attorney General’s award, received a Meritorious Service Award as well.  Deputy Gutierrez, along with a former University of California Santa Barbara Police Officer, is credited with rescuing a woman who was drowning at Goleta Beach in March of 2012, then applying life-saving measures until paramedics arrived. 

Public Safety Dispatchers were recognized as a group with the Department’s Unit Citation Award for their performance during 2012. Sheriff’s Office dispatchers handled approximately 284,000 calls that year and on a typical day dispatched over 500 calls for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services.  In 2012, eight lives were saved as a result of Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) procedures and the Dispatch Center’s overall compliance score exceeded national standards.  The dispatchers were honored as a group for their response times, ability to multi-task, professionalism and teamwork.

Two outstanding citizens were honored by the Sheriff’s Office as well.  Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse President John Wilczak was given an Exceptional Citizen Award for his ongoing support of the Sheriff’s Office and the community at large.  Mr. Wilczak played a key role in the formation of the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse, a non-profit charitable organization, and was instrumental in raising funds to help purchase Copter 3, to buy equipment for the Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team, and to keep the Drug Abuse Resistance Program (DARE) going during difficult financial times.  Mr. Wilczak was recognized for his extraordinary commitment to help provide resources for the Sheriff’s Office, beyond those obtainable via the agency’s traditional budget, that helps safeguard our community.

United States Air Force Airman David Russell, who also received an Attorney General’s Award today, was presented with the Exceptional Citizen Award from the Sheriff’s Office.  Mr. Russell was recognized for his quick thinking in September of 2012 when he heard gunfire and came upon a homicide scene in Orcutt.  Mr. Russell managed to obtain the gunman’s license plate number and direct a citizen to call 911.  He also provided first aid to two shooting victims until paramedics arrived.  His decisive action is credited with helping save the life of one victim, and for providing the Sheriff’s Office with vital information that led to the capture of the murder suspect.

For Media Inquires Contact PIO Kelly Hoover


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