Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada used that word a few times last week when welcoming three officers to the agency and promoting three others.
The Dec. 3 ceremony came a day after the massacre in San Bernardino that left 14 dead and 21 wounded — a grim reminder of the risks officers take each day when they go on duty.
“(This event) brings to light how difficult this job is and what our society is going through,” Quezada said to a large gathering in the APD’s auditorium. “What happened was very very sad and tragic.”
Quezada also noted the recent passing of one of the APD’s own, office specialist Sandi Smithson, saying her death following an illness made for a bittersweet week at the police agency.
But there was plenty to celebrate, he said, as the six officers in the spotlight were introduced Thursday. Their brief profiles follow.
Lt. Willie Triplett II
Triplett is 44 and was born in Long Beach. He has a wife, Mirna, and two sons, Christopher, 14, and Elijah, 2.
Triplett graduated from Long Beach Poly High School in 1989, and later attended California State University, Long Beach where he received his Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. He returned to California State University, Long Beach in 1996 and received his Vocational Education Designated Teachers Credential.
Triplett served in the U.S. Army Reserve for more than 25 years, achieving the rank of major. During his tenure in the Army he worked various assignments including deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
In 1990, Triplett started his law enforcement career with the Long Beach Police Department as a reserve officer. In 1992 he was hired as a reserve police officer with the Anaheim Police Department and became full time with Anaheim PD in 1993.
As an officer, Triplett worked in Traffic as a Motor, DUI and accident investigation, Drug Recognition Expert, Resort Policing Officer, Community Policing Officer, Field Training Officer, and Tactical Negotiator.
In 2007, Triplett was promoted to sergeant and assigned to the Patrol Division. His other supervisory assignments have included: Bike Sergeant, Primary Response Officer, West District Community Policing, Gang Detail, and a member of the Peer Support Team.
Triplett is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.
He spent five years teaching for the North Orange County Regional Occupation Program. He instructed students at La Habra and Magnolia High School in basic law classes. Triplett has also been a Recruit Training Officer at the Golden West Police Academy since 2008.
In his remarks, Triplett thanked his family, including his mother, and said family has been the foundation of his success as an officer.
Willie’s wife and two sons pinned on his badge.
Sgt. Brian Paqua
Paqua, 47, has a wife, Crystal, and two children, daughter Heather, 25, and son Brandon, 18.
Paqua was born in West Islip, N.Y. He graduated from Savannah High School in 1986 and attended Cypress College, where he received his Associates of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice.
Paqua worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department prior to being hired by the Anaheim Police Department in 2002. He has worked Patrol, Field Training Officer, Traffic, Primary Response Officer and Vice.
Paqua is the recipient of two lifesaving awards and the Meritorious Service award. In his free time he enjoys travelling, hiking, visiting MLB stadiums, and snowboarding.
In his remarks, he told the new officers: “This is an awesome place to work. You’re going to like it here.”
Paqua’s wife pinned on his badge.
Sgt. Mark Lillemoen
Lillemoen, 46, has a wife, Gina, and two children, Zachary, 11, and Emily, 9.
He was born in Orange and graduated from Saddleback High School in 1987. Lillemoen attended California State University, Long Beach where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice.
In 1994, Lillemoen was hired by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department as a Reserve Officer and Dispatcher. In 1996, he was hired by the Anaheim Police Department as a dispatcher.
Lillemoen was promoted to the position of police officer in 1998 and has held assignments in patrol, community policing, robbery and homicide. His most recent assignment was on the Orange County Homicide Task Force.
Lillemoen has received the Auto Theft Advisory Committee Award in 2002, 2003, and 2004. In his free time, he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.
His wife and children pinned on his badge.
LATERAL (TRANSFER) OFFICERS
Guzman, 29, was born in Monterey and graduated from Don Bosco Technical Institute High School in 2004. In 2008 he graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice.
In 2010, Guzman joined the California Air National Guard, United States Air Force. He was a member of the 163rd Security Forces Squadron at March Air Reserve Base. He worked full time security at a restricted government training facility.
In 2012, Guzman received the 163rd Mission Support Group Airman of the Year Award. He was deployed to Oman and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2014. In October 2015, Guzman was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Guzman was hired by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department in 2012 where he worked custody and transportation.
In his free time, he enjoys working out, camping, hiking, shooting, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Ruben’s mother, Jenny Guzman, and sister, Lauren Guzman, pinned on his badge.
Huynh is 29. He was born in Montebello and graduated from Arcadia High School in 2004. In 2009, Huynh graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.
In 2011, Huynh was hired by the Los Angeles School Police Department where he worked in Patrol, Resource Officer, Recruiting, and Police Explorer Supervisor. In 2013 he was hired by the Alhambra Police Department where he worked in Patrol and on the Crime Impact Team.
In his free time, Huynh enjoys weight lifting, running, playing sports, traveling, spending time with family and friends.
His father, Allan Huynh, pinned on his badge.
Silva is 24. He was born in La Mirada and graduated from Chino Hills High School in 2009. In 2014, Silva graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science.
In 2013, Silva was hired by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department where he worked Custody and Patrol in the City of Hesperia.
In his free time, Silva enjoys weight lifting, fishing, kayaking, following National politics, attending church, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.
His father, Sam Silva, a retired lieutenant from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, pinned on his badge.