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

34th Annual Friends Of The Dallas Police Banquet Paid Tribute To Dallas Finests With Awards And Acclamations From City Leaders

The appreciation for Dallas law enforcement has continued since the devastating tragedy of Thursday, July 7. This show of admiration was showcased at the 34th Annual Friends of the Dallas Police Awards Banquet on Tuesday, November 1, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. With all the pomp and circumstance it deserved, the occasion had the Dallas Police Department Honor Guard, the Dallas Metro Police Pipes and Drums, the Dallas Police Choir and city and local leadership as more than 150 police officers and employees were honored. Here is a report from the field: 

Coming barely four months after the July 7 attack on Dallas police officers, the Friends of the Dallas Police Awards Banquet on Tuesday, November 1, honored the families of the fallen and injured officers while also recognizing outstanding employees throughout DPD. The 34th-annual banquet paid tribute to approximately 150 distinguished officers and non-sworn employees who have shown strong merit, leadership and courage throughout the past year.

“In what has been one of the most painful and difficult years in our city’s history, the officers and staff of the Dallas Police Department have been a beacon for law enforcement around the nation,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “I’m truly grateful to the Friends of the Dallas Police for drawing attention to the daily dedication and sacrifice demonstrated by these superb men and women, who serve and protect on the frontline and behind the scenes.”

Rene Lozano Jr., David Pughes and James. M. Gentry*

Rene Lozano Jr., David Pughes and James. M. Gentry*

Top awards were given to Senior Corporal James Gentry, who was named the John T. McCarthy Officer of the Year, and Rene Lozano, Jr., who was named the James Taylor Non-Sworn Employee of the Year. Gentry works in the South Central Patrol Division, and Lozano is a senior police dispatcher. Also, homicide detective Eric T. Barnes was named the 2016 James R. Leavelle Detective of the Year.

In a somber ceremony, families of the fallen officers received the Police Cross, given in memory of Dallas Police Department Sergeant Michael Smith, Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Krol, Officer Patricio Zamarripa and Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson.

The officers who received injuries on July 7 were presented the Friends of Dallas Police Line of Duty Award. They are Dallas Police officers Sergeant Giovanni Wells, Officer Ivan Saldana, Officer Jorge Barrientos and Officer Gretchen Rocha; Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers Jesus Retana, Misty McBride and Lee Cannon; and El Centro Officers Corporal Bryan Shaw and Officer John Abbot.

Additionally, Mayor Rawlings saluted former Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown, who recently retired from the police force. The Friends of the Dallas Police presented a clock in honor of his leadership and passion during his career.

Mike Rawlings, David Pughes, David Brown, Joseph Hannigan and Matt Walling*

Mike Rawlings, David Pughes, David Brown, Joseph Hannigan and Matt Walling*

Presented by Highland Capital Management at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, the dinner attracted one of its biggest crowds ever. In addition to Mayor Rawlings and former Chief Brown, special guests included interim DPD Chief David Pughes, DART Deputy Police Chief Matt Walling, El Centro College Police Chief Joseph Hannigan and elected officials. WFAA’s John McCaa served as emcee.

Including the major awards announced that evening, the Friends of the Dallas Police also recognized sworn officers and non-sworn staff members in a variety of categories: Medal of Valor, Meritorious Conduct, Police Commendation, Life Saving, Police Shield and Bureau awards.   Many awardees know before the banquet that they were winners, but six award winners – including Reserve Officer, Field Training Officer, Supervisor, Departmental Non-Sworn Employee and Departmental Officer of the Year – were announced at the event. The award recipients were chosen from nominations made by DPD supervisors based on an officer and employee’s overall yearly performance.

Founded in 1982 by a group of Dallas business leaders to recognize DPD employees for outstanding performance in the line of duty, the Friends of the Dallas Police Awards Banquet raises money to celebrate the men and women of the Dallas Police Department who risk their lives every day to make Dallas a safer city. Founded in 1982, the Friends organization believes that, no matter their position within the department, each of DPD’s employees has made a commitment to better the city and the quality of life of its citizens.

Other top awards included the Marvin R. Bullard Supervisor of the Year Award, which went to Sergeant Barry W. Ragsdale, and the Field Training Officer of the Year to Senior Corporal Kimberly M. Crawford, who works in the Northwest Patrol Division. The Johnny Sides Rookie of the Year Award – announced at an earlier event hosted by the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce – was presented to J. Branden Helms, who works in the Central Patrol Division. The Joe C. Jones Reserve Officer of the Year Award was given to Reserve Lieutenant Vickie Colwell, who has volunteered nearly 3,000 hours and an average of 300 per year.

A number of Bureau Awards also were presented. In the Office of the Chief of Police Bureau, honorees were traffic enforcement specialist Gabriel Aguilar and Senior Corporal Tramese D. Jones. Administrative Bureau awards went to manager Joe Escalona and Senior Corporal Nicole Walton. Investigation Bureau honors were presented to research specialist Bashu Bhatta and detective Eric Barnes. Public service officer Sharon Fletcher and Senior Corporal James Gentry were saluted in the Patrol Bureau. The Strategic Deployment Bureau winners were office assistant Alva Robinson and Senior Corporal Kevin Nickell in the motorcycle unit. The Support Bureau honored senior police dispatcher Rene Lozano Jr. and Senior Corporal Dwight Beaty.

Anu Agrawal and Vanessa Castanon*

Anu Agrawal and Vanessa Castanon*

The 2016 Educational Scholarship Award, which goes to the child of  a Dallas  Police Officer for college use only, was given to Vanessa Castanon, the daughter of Detective Mario Castanon, a 25-year veteran of the DPD’s narcotics unit. Vanessa is currently a senior honors student at Dr. John D. Horn High School and will pursue a major in forensic sciences next fall at Saint Mary’s University in San Antonio.

“Dallas is fortunate to have one of the finest – if not the best – police departments in the nation,” said Mitch Paradise, chairman of the Friends of the Dallas Police. “On behalf of the Friends of the Dallas Police, we hope this evening, in some small way, conveys our gratitude and shines the spotlight on the exceptional work day-in and day-out by the men and women of the DPD.”

John McCaa and Mitch Paradise*

John McCaa and Mitch Paradise*

Sponsors included

  • Chief Sponsor ($10,000)  — Highland Capital Management.
  • Captain Sponsors ($5,000-$9,999) — American Airlines Center, Cigna, Freeman Auto Group, Don Henley Family, Al G. Hill Jr., The Men & Women of Hunt Consolidated Inc., Ellen and John McStay and Sewell.
  • Lieutenant Sponsors ($3,500-$4,999) — Kroger and John McReynolds
  • Sergeant Sponsors ($2,500-$3,499) — Ruth and Ken Altshuler, AG&E Structural Engenuity, The Baldridge Foundation, Holly and Doug Brooks Family Foundation, City Credit Union, Club Corp., Dallas Mavericks, GFF and Lyda Hill
  • Corporal Sponsors ($1,500-$2,499) — Apartment Association of North Texas, Balfour Beatty Construction, Bellatorra Skin Care, Hillwood Development Company LLC, Invesco, Holt Lunsford Commercial, JLT Beverages LP/Julie and Jim Turner, Rita and Steve Millwee, Martha and Doug Morris, Matthews Paradise Office Development, Michelle and Jeff Wheeler, NorthPark Center,  Erle Nye, PGV Pediatrics, Vin & Caren Prothro Foundation, SMU, Stantec and Mary and Mike Terry
* Photo credit: James Edward