Awarding the Thin Blue LineFeb 01, 2023 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Michele Townsend
Left to Right: Kristina Hunter; Officer in Charge Marc Marquez; Officer Matthew Montez and K9 Yoda; Deputy Chief Carl Crouch; Lt. Charles Meeks; Atasha Snider; Joseph Escobar.
WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - West Sacramento Police Department held its annual awards ceremony on Saturday, January 28, to celebrate the accomplishments and heroic actions of the West Sacramento Police Department during 2022. After a fantastic dinner, Deputy Chief Carl Crouch initiated the ceremony with a curtained backdrop proudly displaying the WSPD logo.
The series of awards presented were: Commanding Officer’s Citation – Officer in Charge Alexi Venikov and Cold Case Homicide Team; Exceptional Performance Ribbon – Sgt. Andrea King, Officer Matthew Montez, Officer Scott Farnsworth and Division Manager Taylor Nelson; Life Saving Award – Officer in Charge Alexi Venikov and Officer Jonas Eiremo; Community Recognition Citation – Yolo County Sheriff’s Marine Team; Chief’s Citation – Shawnae Brooks, K9 5K Team Officer Matthew Montez, Officer in Charge Marc Marquez, Kristin Hunter, Fleet Service Lt. Charles Meeks, Joseph Escobar, Atasha Snider, Officer Nick Concolino; Special Recognition Award – Patrol Officers, Patrol Sergeants, CSO’s.
In addition, awards were received for Volunteer of the year – Sharon Kowalski; Manager of the year – Lt. Charles Meeks; Employee of the year – Veronica Garcia; and Officer of the year – (name withheld).
As names were called, Deputy Chief Crouch explained why WSPD has such great officers. In spite of the pay authorized by this city, he said, these men and women stayed with the department because they love this community and in an already shorthanded department worked even more hours covering for those ill with COVID.
“These are not participation awards. When you work in this profession, you’re never just participating,” Crouch said. He explained that the men and women in that room have the opportunity to change the lives of residents, as well as those in the department. He spoke about helping the community and mentioned that in his 25 years at WSPD, he has risen through the ranks and is now Deputy Chief. “If you don’t believe you have the chance to make change, change will be made without you,” said Crouch.
After the awards were given out, Chief Rob Strange said he was proud of the many individuals he works with. He highlighted the exemplary work these people do while shorthanded and underfunded. Strange was proud that WSPD began making the necessary changes before the death of George Floyd which the nation has now demanded in the aftermath of his death.
Chief Strange noted that while shorthanded, officers and their families have sacrificed their time and made efforts to ensure empty shifts were covered. Strange said that more community outreach and programs with the community are important but has heard from community members asking for police work in the most traditional sense.
“They want crime being fought, sideshows busted up, mail and catalytic converter thieves caught and those that are filling our community with deadly fentanyl tracked down and arrested. They want crimes fully investigated and solved, they want us to crack down on bad drivers, they want us to be protecting their homes and their businesses, they want us doing all that we can to protect their children. They want us to be guardians and they want us to maintain a true warriors’ spirit on their behalf because [they] want us doing all that we can for them. They want more of you and they want you to stay in West Sacramento,” said the Chief. He said, this community values them and wants them to know they are valued.