On Thursday, May 30th, the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce (SBACC) held its 43rd Annual Law Enforcement Recognition Dinner which honored several law enforcement agencies in the area. Honorees included the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBCSD), the San Bernardino Police Department (SBPD), California State University San Bernardino Police Department (CSUSBPD), San Bernardino Community College District Police (SBCCDP), San Bernardino City Unified School District Police Department (SBCUSDPD), and the San Bernardino County Office of the District Attorney (SBCODA).
Nominations were submitted to the SBACC from each law enforcement agency. The nominees were judged based on the criteria contained on the biographical profile submitted from their department. Although there were several candidates submitted to the SBACC and all were recognized and awarded for their actions; only one “Officer of the Year” was selected from each agency.
The recognition festivities started off with a meal, which was served by the young men and women from the Inland Empire Job Corps Culinary Arts Program. Reverend Father Andrew Lesko from the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church gave the invocation. Attorney James Penman welcomed the attendees during the dinner. The SBACC Chairman and General Manager of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Jim Wheeler also addressed the guest and welcomed everyone to the event.
During the Recognition Ceremonies, a multi-agency Color Guard presented the Colors. Attorney Wilfred Lemann was the Master of Ceremonies. Mr Lemann introduced the Superior Court Judges and the District Attorney that would introduce each of the agency’s nominees.
The Honorable John P. Vander Feer introduced the nominees from the CHP, Officers David Gibson, Carlos Gonzales, and Justin Wheatley. The Honorable David Mazurek introduced the nominees from the SBCSD, Deputies Ryan Cook, Michael Kassis, Alisha Rosa, and Anthony Thomas. The Honorable Glenn Yabuno introduced the nominees from the SBPD, Homicide Detective William Flesher, Officers Herlinda Rodriguez and Christopher Shipley. District Attorney Jason Anderson introduced Sergeant Rocky Johnson from the CSUSBPD, SBCCDP Corporal John Paul Carlos, and SBCUSDPD Officer Eduardo Sanchez. The Honorable Glenn Yabuno introduced SBCODA Senior Investigator Kevin DeCoud, and SBPD K9 Handler Officer Melissa Flint and K9 Bexter.
After all the nominees were recognized, City of San Bernardino Mayor Pro-Tem Bessine Littlefield Richard announced the winning nomination for each department; and SBACC Chairman Jim Wheeler decorated each winner with a personalized metal for their achievements. And, the Officer of the Year awards went to CHP Officer David Gibson, SBCSD Deputy Alisha Rosa, SBPD Officer Christopher Shipley, CSUSBPD Sergeant Rocky Johnson, SBCCDP Corporal John Paul Carlos, SBCUSDPD Officer Eduardo Sanchez, SBCODA Senior Investigator Keven DeCoud, and the K9 Handler and K9 of the Year went to Officer Melissa Flint and her K9 partner Bexter.
All the nominated Officers did an outstanding job for their communities and agencies, going far and beyond their call of duty. All should be commended for their dedication. Detective William (Billy) Flesher started with the SBPD in 1978 and may be retiring soon. Over his career, Detective Flesher has investigated hundreds of homicides, solving many of them. Always going the extra mile on any case he has worked; this writer has personally observed Flesher pushing a broom clearing debris from a roadway while working on patrol to assisting on technical highly skilled forensic applications during high profile homicide investigations.
CHP Officers have routinely received many prestigious awards and recognitions for their work to arrest drunk drivers and to lower accident rates which saves lives. Some Officers like Deputy Kassis have special skills that have been used by not only the Sheriff’s department, but he has assisted other agencies like the FBI, ATF, IRS in criminal activities that have involve Arabic speakers. Officer Melissa Flint and K9 partner Bexter work patrol, but Bexter is also an accomplished narcotics dog. So far, Bexter has conducted about 150 drug searches netting over $ 400,000.00 worth of narcotics, has tracked down suspects, and does his share in participating in community events