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Sheriff’s Office Honors its Heroes at Merit Awards Ceremony

The awards come in five categories: Outstanding Community Service, Certificate of Commendation, the Lifesaving Award, the Medal of Valor, and the Medal of Honor

County of Santa Clara Sheriff's Office Merit Awards sit on a table, each in a presentation case.e, each

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. – The County of Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office honored more than five dozen of its top-notch employees for exemplary work done in the realm of public safety at its annual Merit Awards Ceremony. 

These hard-earned and coveted awards cover outstanding acts of volunteerism, bravery, heroism, sacrifice and courage, said Sheriff Bob Jonsen. 

“The Sheriff’s Office has some of the finest men and women in law enforcement,” said Sheriff Jonsen. “Their commitment to excellence and public service is impressive, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this team.”

The awards come in five categories: Outstanding Community Service, Certificate of Commendation, the Lifesaving Award, the Medal of Valor, and the Medal of Honor.

The various categories can highlight compassionate acts of service within the community. One deputy helped to arrange birthday gifts for a young boy whose father was arrested on domestic violence charges a year after a similar incident meant the boy’s birthday went without a celebration. Not this year – the deputy and his team pitched in for a PlayStation and surprised the boy on his birthday weekend. 

Other awardees are lifesavers. Such as the deputy who talked a young, suicidal survivor of sexual assault off a bridge overpass. He gently and quickly developed a rapport with the teen, chatting about life, music, school, friends and family. The teen intended to jump off the bridge that day, but the deputy convinced the youth to change course and seek help instead.

Another deputy was off-duty and on a trip to the Children’s Discovery Museum with his wife and infant child when a toddler took a tumble and was knocked out. He was fast to act, performing CPR for two minutes on the unconscious, unbreathing child before signs of life returned and paramedics took over. 

The Medal of Valor and Medal of Honor are given to those who rise to great levels, often in a harrowing situation with their own safety at risk. 

That includes a pair of deputies who were first to arrive at a burning Cupertino home, where they learned a 60-year-old man with mobility issues was trapped inside. They immediately rushed through smoke and flames to locate and rescue him, while making sure nobody else was inside.

There was also a sergeant and 14 deputies who were in an intense face off with a gunman who was sniping at them from a burning building. One deputy’s body armor caught a ricocheted bullet, while others were struck by shrapnel. Ultimately, they used the department’s armored vehicle to close in and subdue the attacker. 

One of the deputies involved in that standoff won another award – the Medal of Honor – for disarming a man who drew a pistol with intent to shoot and then tried to run the officer down with his vehicle. 

The other Medal of Honor recipients were a pair of deputies at the main jail who subdued an inmate armed with an improvised knife, successfully taking him down even though one of the deputies had been stabbed in the back and severely cut on his arms in the ambush attack. 

“I am beyond grateful for the dedication and commitment of those being honored,” said Sheriff Jonsen. “Their devotion and commitment to the County, this office and especially to the community they serve are extraordinary.”


Outstanding Community Service:

Christopher Masten

Dr. Aurora Bibb

Adeline Espinoza

Richard Buseman

Sgt. Fabian DeSantiago

Cheryl Walsh

Rolando Wehbe


Certificate of Commendation

Sgt. Christopher Tolbertson

Deputy Conor Emery 

Alberto Martinez Jr.

Dr. Patrick Marshall

Lt. Gurpreet Gill

Lt. Aaron Simonson

Sgt. Andrew Galaviz

Sgt. Colin Haselbach

Deputy Cary Colla

Deputy Peter Nguyen

Deputy Robert Paul

Deputy Matthew Robinson

Deputy Christopher Hilt

Deputy Alejandro Gomez


Lifesaving Award

Deputy Jesse Sanders

Deputy Kevin Chai

Deputy Cody Levene

Deputy Christopher Szemanski

Reserve Capt. Warren Eide

Reserve Sgt. Greg Sandoval

Deputy Lucas Crawford

Deputy Sebastian Ramirez

Deputy Jason Satariano

Deputy Charles Webb

Deputy Ramon Gonzales Jr.

Deputy Eric Barton

Deputy Michael Tapia

Deputy Christopher Hilt

Deputy Ryan Griep

Deputy Edgar Hernandez

Deputy Marissa Navarro

Deputy Jeff Jordahl

Deputy Rickey Hanson

Deputy Mario Lewis-Soper

Deputy Donald Staden

Deputy Jose Melesio-Trejo

Deputy Tuan Le


Medal of Valor

Deputy Jesus Plancarte

Deputy Miguel Ruiz

Sgt. Marcus Barbour

Deputy Eric Barton

Deputy Ryan Griep

Deputy Edgar Hernandez

Deputy Christopher Hilt

Deputy Darren Lee

Deputy Rahim Mohamed

Deputy Steven Parodi

Deputy Timur Ruban

Deputy Jose Rios

Deputy Damario Dimms

Deputy Jeffrey Stanford

Deputy William Boring

Deputy Ryan Vesey

Deputy Tyler Stevenson


Medal of Honor

Deputy Jose Rios

Deputy Austin Dongon

Deputy Vicente Gonzalez Jr. 


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