35th Annual Friends Of Dallas Police Banquet Salutes The Heroes In Blue With Fanfare, Elected Officials And Awards

With Dallas’ new Police Chief Reneé Hall and loads of city leaders in attendance, the 35th Annual Friends of Dallas Police Banquet was quite a stellar affair complete with Dallas Metro Police Pipe and Drums and the Dallas Police Honor Guard on Monday, November 6, at the Hyatt Regency. In additions to awards being handed out to officers in blue, there was fire fighter / paramedic / new dad William An, who knew firsthand how Dallas’ finest will make the difference in lifesaving situations. Here’s a report from the field:

Dallas Metro Police Pipe and Drums and Dallas Police Honor Guard*

Described as the Oscars for the Dallas Police Department, more than 600 gathered to attend the 35th annual Friends of Dallas Police Banquet held Monday, November 6, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.

The stars of the evening were the 115 police officers and non-sworn employees honored for their strong leadership, courage and exceptional service demonstrated throughout the past year. Not only were Medals of Valor and Life Saving Awards presented, but top honors were announced for Officer of the Year, Supervisor of the Year, Detective of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Non-Sworn Employee and more. For a fifth year, Highland Capital Management stepped up as presenting sponsor.

George Dunham and the Dallas Police Choir*

The Ticket radio host George Dunham was tapped to keep the jam-packed program moving. The evening began as the Dallas Police Honor Guard and the Dallas Metro Police Pipes and Drums presented the colors in a moving ceremony, followed by the National Anthem performed by the Dallas Police Choir and the invocation given by Dallas Police Chaplain Rayford Butler.

Friends of Dallas Police Chairman Lamonte Thomas described the DPD as “one of the finest police departments in our nation.”

“When I hear of the everyday sacrifice and heroism demonstrated on the streets and behind the scenes by the men and women of the Dallas Police Department, I am humbled, proud and grateful,” he added.

This was the first Friends of the Dallas Police Banquet for Dallas’ new “top cop” – Chief U. Reneé Hall, who was on hand to present the awards and take photos with all 115 winners.

Tennell Atkins, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Mike Rawlings and Omar Narvaez*

Elected officials from local to national levels were there in force to back the blue. In addition to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who delivered remarks at the VIP reception, special guests included Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano and Dallas City Councilmembers Rick Callahan, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Omar Narvaez, Adam McGough and Casey Thomas. Also attending were Dallas City Manager T. C. Broadnax, Dallas Fire and Rescue Chief David Coatney, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County Commissioners Dr. Elba Garcia and Theresa Daniel, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, State Senator Don Huffines, State Representative Cindy Burkett and State Representative Toni Rose, and representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Congressman Pete Session and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.

Rick Callahan and Elba Garcia*

Mark Okada and Don Huffines*

One highlight was the introduction of Dallas Fire and Rescue firefighter and paramedic William An, who was seriously injured when shot by a suspect. Nine officers – including Sergeant Robert Watson who rescued An, put him in his police car and took him to the hospital thereby saving his life – were awarded Medals of Valor for their bravery under fire. Watson invited An and his family to sit at his table with his family members. (It was the first time they’d seen each other in a very long time.) The Dallas Morning News’ Naheed Rajwani interviewed An that evening and reported the following:

William An, Robert Watson and An son*

“An’s 3-week-old son is named Watson, which An’s wife had picked out before the shooting. The couple realized later that it was the lifesaving sergeant’s last name, too.
“‘Purely coincidental,’ An said, ‘but some people say there’s no such thing as coincidences.'”

Top awards were given to Officer Joe King, who was named the John T. McCarthy Officer of the Year, and Stephanie Mendoza, who was named the James Taylor Non-Sworn Employee of the Year. Officer King works in the Legal Services Division, and Mendoza works as an office assistant in the Auto Thefts Division.

Joe King and Reneé Hall*

Stephanie Mendoza and Reneé Hall*

Noe Camacho and Reneé Hall*

Ivan Gunter and Reneé Hall*

Other winners included Detective Noe Camacho named the James R. Leavelle Detective of the Year, Sergeant Ivan Gunter named the Marvin R. Bullard Supervisor of the Year, Senior Corporal David Feinstein named Field Training Officer of the Year, Reserve Lieutenant D’Andrea Gadbury named Supervisor of the Year, Fernando Garcia named the Johnny Sides Rookie of the Year, and Supervisor III Brian Hansen named Non-Sworn Supervisor of the Year.

David Feinstein*

D’Andrea Gadbury and Reneé Hall*

Fernando Garcia and Reneé Hall*

In addition to their awards, the top honorees received a variety of prizes, ranging from hotel stays and entertainment packages, to dinners and VISA cards. 

Also, two $1,500 scholarships were presented to the children of Dallas police officers. The 2017 Educational Scholarship Awards went to Courtney Jones, the daughter of Detective Charles Jones, and Hannah Kim, daughter of Senior Corporal David Kim.

There was no lack of community support! In addition to

  • Presenting sponsor — Highland Capital Management,
  • Chief Sponsors ($10,000-$25,000) — The Men & Women of Hunt Consolidated Inc., The Marilyn and Sonny Oates Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Kenny A. Troutt
  • Major Sponsors ($5,000 level)— Cigna, Freeman Auto Group, Don Henley & Family, Al G. Hill Jr., Ellen and John McStay, Scovell Family Foundation, Sewell and Marianne and Roger Staubach
  • Lieutenant Sponsors ($3,500 level) — Central Market, Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix, Kroger and Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson, LLP.

For more information about the Friends of the Dallas Police, go to friendsofthedallaspolice.org.

* Photo credit: James Edward

JUST IN: A Request For Gatorade

Everyone is donating money and building a memorial to support the Dallas Police Department following Thursday night’s shootings. The following message was just received from Donna Mason:

“I spoke to one of my North East [Police] Station contacts, asking what they need at this time.  He said they could use Gatorade for the officers out in the field in all this heat. If any of you wish to help in that way, just drop it off at the North East Station.”

Even if you can’t afford a financial contribution to the Assist The Officer Foundation, you might consider buying a case of Gatorade.

BTW, the North East Station is located at 9915 East Northwest Highway, just east of Flag Pole Hill. You can’t miss it. It’s the one with the balloons, bouquets and flags out front.

It’s A Good Time To Support Dallas Police Officers And Other First Responders

While most Dallasites slumbered thanks to Mr. Sandman on Saturday, June 13, the Dallas police headquarters across the way from South Side on Lamar was under fire. Many woke up the following morning to news about the “incident” and watched on TV the morning’s developments with the gunman being killed.

It was safe to watch at home, but imagine having to be one of those responders facing gunfire and potential explosions, or being their families monitoring developments.

While the politicos chew on how to better support the Dallas Police Departments, others are grass rooting support.

Need a for instance? Okay, how about the Merriman Park/University Manor neighborhood?

It started, like many, with a single idea. Resident Katie Quinn thought “We should do something to reach out our very stressed-out police force.”

According to MPUM Officer Donna Mason, “We did take a sheet cake to the Northeast station, along with a thank you ‘you are the best’ card to Chief David Brown.”

Now the little development created in the 1950’s has ramped up and created a 10-foot banner to place on the Northwest Highway entry and declared “to color our neighborhood blue to show our support of the Dallas Police Department.”

Merriman Park/University Manor banner*

Merriman Park/University Manor banner*

Taking it a step farther, they’re having “rolls of blue ribbons cut in 1’ lengths for people to tie around a tree or tacking to trees, on porches — anywhere visible so all residents have an opportunity to show their support.”

The message in this case is to support the Dallas police, but perhaps it needs to be expanded to include all first responders. It doesn’t have to be a community effort like MPUM. It can be an individual one. If you’re driving by and see a policeman or a fireman, roll down the window and say, “Thank you.” Make an effort to introduce your munchkins to first responders. They need to recognize these uniformed people and feel comfortable around them. Write your City Council representative and let them know of your support for these individuals, who daily step between victims and danger.

* Graphic provided by Merriman Park/University Manor

How To Prevent The Grinches From Spoiling Your Holidays

All gifts aren’t going to be arriving via the chimney thanks to a jolly, old soul in a red and white outfit. Just as scheduled deliveries are being made throughout the area, so are unplanned pickups by some very naughty gnomes. And then there those wicked ones who have the effrontery to spoil your shopping expeditions.

The Dallas Police Officer Katherine Robinson just sent this memo suggesting how to overcome holiday hassles. You might want to eyeball it because it might make the difference in your holiday:

“During the holiday season most people are thinking of last minute shopping and large meals. However, not every one considers the holidays a time to celebrate, but rather an opportunity to commit a crime.

“Unfortunately, the holiday season provides a criminal with many opportunities to spoil holiday cheer. Busy parking lots and hurried shoppers are just two elements working for a potential thief. Also, we make his job easier by ‘advertising’ our recent purchases.

“By knowing what makes you more likely to be a victim of a “holiday” crime, you can take steps to reduce your risk.

“Safety While Shopping

  • “If possible do your holiday shopping during the day and avoid peak shopping periods.
  • “Carry a small purse and carry it under your blazer or jacket. This will make you a less attractive target to purse snatchers.
  • “If possible don’t take children with you during extended shopping periods. You are more vulnerable to a crime if most of your attention is on child care.
  • “Avoid doing all your shopping at once. The tendency would be to have a car full of gifts which increases your chances of being targeted.
  • “Shop with a friend or relative. There is added security in numbers.
  • “As always, lock your car while shopping.
  • “Park your vehicle as close to the shopping center as possible and in a well-lighted location.
  • “Don’t leave packages visible in your car. Place all valuables in the trunk of your vehicle. Don’t give thieves a reason to break into your car.
  • “Avoid carrying large amounts of cash during the holiday season – use credit cards or personal checks.
  • “While shopping, keep credit cards, checks, cash and identification on your person rather than in a purse.
  • “Don’t hesitate to ask mall security to escort you to your car when you exit the mall.
  • “When returning home, scan the parking lot before approaching your car. The element of surprise is a criminal’s most important advantage.
  • “Shop and go home. Don’t make unnecessary stops with several items in your car.
  • “When taking packages from your car to your house don’t leave your vehicle unlocked with packages inside. Also, when you enter your house don’t leave the door open behind you when unloading packages.

“Safety at Home

  • “Don’t display gifts in your windows.
  • “Following the holidays, break down any large gift boxes (televisions, stereos, etc.) and put them in trash bags for discard. Don’t provide thieves with information about new electronics in your home.

“Away from Home for the Holidays?

“Exercise the same precautions during the holidays as during the rest of the year when leaving your house:

  • “Lock all doors and windows
  • “Leave lights and a radio on – preferably on a timer – to give your home a ‘lived in’ look.
  • “If you leave for several days stop mail and newspaper deliveries and have a trusted friend or neighbor watch your home.
  • “Notify the police sub-station in your area and request extra patrol.”

Here are a couple of  suggestions that the MSC elves came up with:

  • Post a “Beware of dog” sign, even if you don’t have a pooch.
  • Do not post on social media your holiday plans for a getaway. And while on your vacation, wait to post photos until you return home.