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