Police chief fetes finest

By Veronica Rocha

DOWNTOWN GLENDALE — Glendale Police Department's finest were honored Thursday for acts of bravery, exemplary skills and in-depth investigations that led to multiple arrests.

Hundreds gathered inside the Hilton Glendale for the 15th annual Glendale Police Awards Luncheon, which paid tribute to the department's top officers.

"This is truly a high-performance team, and I see day in and day out, regardless of what the emergency is and what the particular catastrophe might be, these men and women rise to the occasion on a consistent basis," Police Chief Ron De Pompa said. "They are simply the best at what they do."

More than 40 officers, staffers and residents received awards for their volunteer services, shooting skills, community service and work dedication.

Gang Unit Sgt. Scott Bickle, detectives Rafael Quintero, Sean Riley and Eric Meyer, and Assistant City Atty. Carmen Merino earned the Distinguished Service Award for their work in acquiring a permanent injunction against the Toonerville gang, which terrorized south Glendale neighborhoods.

The unit worked on several leads, gathered evidence and made arrests to help support an injunction against the gang.

The group combed through hundreds of police reports to gather enough information to move forward with legal action against the gang.

"It was part of my job, but actually working with the gang unit was extraordinary because they are so dedicated," Merino said.

The injunction, issued in March 2009, made it easier for authorities to arrest alleged gang members found selling or possessing drugs, possessing weapons and graffiti tools, using lookouts, trespassing, loitering and intimidating people who live and work within the designated zone.

The zone was defined as a 4.5-square-mile area that includes much of south Glendale into Los Angeles and a 1.25-square-mile area of Tujunga just north of Foothill Boulevard.

"It was a combined effort between all of the divisions . . . and it takes a department to really make the arrests," Bickle said.

The takedown has led to a decrease in the number of crimes committed by Toonerville gang members, Bickle said. Whenever the gang receives media attention, its members tend to retaliate against the Police Department.

Members most recently sprayed their gang name and "What's up GPD?" Bickle said.

The gang unit arrested ex-convict Sonny Peña in connection with the graffiti and possessing drugs and ammunition, he said.

The gang officers were among a group of 53 other service men and women who received a Toonerville 187PC Campaign Ribbon for their work against the gang. Section 187 of the California penal code relates to murder.

Det. Art Frank's investigative work regarding the murder of a Mongol motorcycle gang member on the Glendale (2) Freeway in 2008, which was eventually linked to a Toonerville gang member, also earned him a ribbon and the Officer of the Year Award.

The Winners Top Shooter Awards: First place— Det. Danny FernandezSecond place — Officer Tim LindnerThird place — Det. Toby DarbyNo Second Chance Top Shooter — Det. Danny Fernandez

Community Service Award: Peter RosenthalDivisional Commendations: Community Service Officer Cyndi Lindner, Officer Jim Trudeau, Officer Nelson Aguillon, Officer Joe Allen

Distinguished Service Awards:Officer Sean McLaughlin, Officer Michael Woolner, Officer Matt Zakarian, Sgt. John Gilkerson, Det. Bob Zaun, Officer Shawn Sholtis, Sgt. Scott Bickle, Det. Rafael Quintero, Det. Eric Meyer, Det. Sean Riley, Assistant City Atty. Carmen Merino, Sgt. Jeff Newton, Det. Toby Darby

Volunteer of the Year: Nancy Michael

Civilian of the Year: PC Specialist Supervisor Al Mendoza

Reserve Officer of the Year: Officer John Dewell

Officer of the Year: Det. Art Frank

Proclamations: Toonerville Homicide Investigation: Captain III William Murphy, Det. Chris Vasquez, Det. Brian Miyakawa, Los Angeles Police Department; Det. Dwayne Bednar, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department; Deputy Dist. Attys. Mark Burnley and Steve Dickman, district attorney's office; Lt. Paul Torrence, Det. Jeff Chavez, Det. Frank Trujillo, Det. Brian Agnew, LA-HIDTA Teams 51 and 52

Ray Edwards Award:Jim Pietsch, Luisa Ashley, Marko Swan, Anna Del Rio

Purple Heart:Retired Officer Vic Gunderson

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