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Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia has trained the first of what he expects will be hundreds of private security guards who have signed up to help deputies apprehend wanted suspects, secure crime scenes and search for missing persons.
But officials with the county’s largest deputy’s union are slamming the partnership’s effectiveness and questioning whether Harris County could face legal liability for possible misconduct by the private security guards because of the training.
Two Redwood City firefighters and two police officers were honored for their heroism and outstanding service by a local community group, a city official announced.
The Peninsula Council of Lions Club presented police Officer Perry Garcia with the service award at the 46th annual Police and Firefighter Awards Banquet on April 1.
Garcia, a volunteer instructor for the police activities league’s karate program, volunteered more than 2,400 hours and helped mentor over 700 at-risk youth during his 11-year tenure, officials said.
Police Officer Ryan Adler was also nominated for a heroism award for his part in saving the life of a 9-year-old child on April 14, 2010. He responded to a report of a child who was choking, administered the Heimlich maneuver, and restored the child’s breathing.
Several gunshots echoed through the field as a sniper with Brownsville police eliminated each target down range to provide a clear path for his teammates.
Once the signal was given, three officers wearing tactical gear sprinted across the field with their assault rifles to eliminate the remaining targets. After all the targets were hit, the men headed back toward the start-finish line while having to clear a set of obstacles.
After reaching the finish, the men breathed a sigh of relief as they checked their time and waited for the next team to compete during the first Rio Grande Valley SWAT Team Competition.
According to Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia, the event is a friendly competition among tactical teams to help them network and bond.
SWAT refers to special weapons and tactics, a unit of highly trained police officers that are called to handle high-risk situations.
Garcia hopes the event becomes a yearly competition and allows for closer relations among the area’s police departments.
Harris County ranks No. 1 among the nation’s top 10 largest counties with the most alcohol-related traffic fatalities. It’s a title that Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says he wants to relinquish.
Garcia announced on Thursday a comprehensive, multi-agency initiative called Operation Shared Responsibility that will combine enforcement and public education to reduce drunken driving. The countywide initiative will kick off Saturday in northwest Harris County, where patrol officers will focus solely on DWI or alcohol-related offenses. Officers will target specific, unannounced areas during the next eights weeks, he said.
“Alcohol-related accidents are claiming more lives in Harris County than anywhere else in the country,” Garcia said at the department’s northwest substation in Tomball. “I’m asking the public and the community partners to share the responsibility to put an end to this body count.”
A Cape Coral Police Officer makes his first public appearance tonight 8 months after a serious motorcycle accident nearly took his life. Last June, Damien Garcia was riding is patrol motorcycle when an SUV pulled out in front of him, leaving him with serious head injuries. Doctors weren’t sure he going to survive. Saturday night, Garcia was a walking miracle at the Gene Griffin Memorial Football Game at Ida Baker High School.
The game is an annual charity event between the Fort Myers and Cape Coral police and firefighters. While Damien Garcia would rather have been playing alongside his fellow officers, tonight, he played a different position, doing the honorary coin toss and getting the loudest cheers of the night.
Slow and steady, 26 year old Damien Garcia walks with the help of his fiance. 8 months ago, he was in and out of a coma, and couldn’t walk or breathe on his own. The last thing doctors imagined he’d he doing is walking more than 50 yards across a football field. But Saturday night, he did just that, giving players and the crowd a true lesson in courage.
“To see him out here walking after all reports, going through a coma, and coming out of it, wheelchair, physical therapy and to see him take steps out here and actually wave at people do the coin toss, it was such an inspiration to all of us out here,” Brad Dickerson of the Fort Myers Police said.
Although Garcia was too tired to speak, his footsteps alone spoke volumes. “Never give up, never never never say never,” said Erik Chudzik of the Cape Coral Fire Department. “It was so bleak for him and it has been for other people but you never give up. Never stop fighting.”
“We know where the credit goes, this is a God thing, and the blessings from prayers that were given, here we are today. It is a miracle,” Cape Coral Police Chief Rob Petrovich said.
While Garcia may not have been tackling and throwing the football, Saturday night, he can definitely take credit for a touchdown or two. “We’re definitely out here with a little extra to go from Damien,” Chudzik said.
The final score of the night was Police: 7, Firefighters: 6, but it was pretty obvious from talking to players, whether their uniforms were red or blue, they were all playing for the same person.
By Haley Hinds
For the first time in San Antonio’s history, a San Antonio Police Department officer was named “Officer of the Year by Parade magazine, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
The national award came after Officer Pete Garcia risked his life to help save the lives of two other officers.
Those who know him say humble, hard working, and quiet are three of the words they would use to describe Officer Garcia.
“It really is a great honor to receive the award,” Officer Garcia told News 4 WOAI. “And it’s another honor to represent the San Antonio Police Department.”
Officer Lawrence Robarts and Officer Brandy Roell went to serve a warrant on Andres Vargas at his home on Redstart Dr. back in Sept. 2008. Investigators say when they got inside the home to confront Vargas, he opened fire on them. Officer Robarts was hit three times but was able to get himself out of the house and was rescued by other officers. However, Officer Roell was shot in the back and was unable to escape the home. Officer Pete Garcia went in to help her.
“Once he got inside, he grabbed Officer Roell, picked her up, threw her over his shoulder and, still under fire and returning fire, he made his way to the house, retreating from the house, and made his way to safety,” explained San Antonio Police Department Chief Bill McManus.
Officer Garcia went back to the house until more help could arrive. Andres Vargas ended up taking his own life several hours later.
“The award is given to me, but I think it was a team effort out there, that day in September,” Officer Garcia said.
It is a day most people would say the 6-year veteran went above and beyond the call.
“I really wasn’t thinking anything,” added Officer Garcia. “It went from knowing that we had to get those officers out, to just doing it.”
Officer Garcia will be getting his award next week in Denver, Colorado.
The two officers are still recovering from their injuries. The Parade magazine featuring Officer Garcia should be hitting store shelves the weekend of Oct. 3-4.
A Virginia State Trooper from the Eastern Shore will receive national recognition in Sunday’s Parade magazine, according to reports.
The publication will name Trooper K. J. Johnson among America’s top police officers of 2009 for his heroism in rescuing 3-year-old Destiny Strand from a burning car last February.
Johnson was on patrol around 11:30 p.m. Feb. 6 on U . S. Route 13 in Pastoria when he came upon a Chevrolet Lumina that had overturned and caught on fire.
The driver, Danielle Strand, 23, of Parksley, and two of her children were outside the car, but a third child, Destiny, was trapped inside.
The accident happened on Destiny’s third birthday.
Johnson crawled into the burning car, found Destiny under the dashboard and carried her to safety. The child suffered two broken legs in the accident.
The vehicle’s front end was engulfed in flames and the interior was completely filled with smoke when Johnson made the rescue, 1st Sgt. J-P. N. Koushel told a reporter shortly after the incident.
“If he had not done it, the child would have died,” Koushel said.
Johnson was treated for smoke inhalation at Shore Memorial Hospital after the rescue.
Johnson came to the Eastern Shore from Los Angeles, Calif. and has worked at the Area 31 State Police office for three years. He is among a dozen law enforcement officers receiving honorable mention from Parade magazine.
The 2009 Police Officer of the Year is Pedro Garcia of San Antonio, Texas, who saved the life of a wounded colleague and helped rescue another during a shootout, according to the Virginian-Pilot report.
Chow down Thursday and help an officer in need. Dallas police and volunteers will dish up plates of food for $5 donations to help Alex Garcia, a young officer who developed blood clots on his brain this summer and is going through rehabilitation.
On the menu: Barbecued chicken, hot links, hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and lemonade will be served from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Northeast Patrol Division, 9915 E. Northwest Highway. Eat under an awning in the back or take it to go. Look for parking signs across the street.
The beneficiary: Garcia was attending an out-of-state Police Explorer’s conference when he became severely dehydrated and suffered brain hemorrhaging. He’s home but continuing rehab at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Zale Lipshy Hospital. The benefit, organized by the Neighborhood Police Officers Unit, will help with medical bills and related expenses, said Officer Mitch Gatson.
Condition update: Dallas police forwarded this update last Wednesday from his wife, Rosa: “Alex is progressing at a fast pace. The rehabilitation personnel, Alex, and I had a meeting last week and we were told that they have 3 levels of people they work with:
1. Those that can’t do anything by themselves and need the most help.
2. The middle level, which is where Alex was originally.
3. The exit level, which really focuses on getting patients ready to return to work and be independent. The great news is that Alex is now in the exit level. … They don’t have an exact discharge date, but they did mention maybe two or three more months. It really all depends on how he is doing.”
A Dallas police officer was in intensive care Saturday at a Denver hospital after suffering severe dehydration and brain hemorrhaging during a Police Explorers competition in Colorado.
Alex Garcia, 22, who joined the department in 2008, underwent two surgeries to remove blood clots and was breathing with the help of a respirator. But doctors at Swedish Medical Center hope to take him off the respirator soon.
“He’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s stable,” said Dallas Officer Chris Grall, who has remained by his side. “He is now giving a thumbs-up and waving like he wants the respirator out.”
Garcia and other Dallas police officers drove to Colorado last week to take part in a nationwide competition. On Wednesday afternoon, Garcia suffered severe dehydration and began vomiting during the competition.
“Between the high altitude and the heat, he dehydrated and a blood clot formed,” said Grall, a 19-year veteran. “The blood clot got into his jugular vein and backed up the blood flow leaving the brain, causing a hemorrhage.”
HOW TO HELP
Contributions for Officer Alex Garcia may be sent to the Assist the Officer Foundation (Alex Garcia) at 1412 E. Griffin St., Dallas, Texas, 75215, or made online at http://www.atodallas.org by requesting that funds go to Garcia. Contributions also may be made to an account for Explorer Post No. 3194 at Regions Bank.