Behind the Badge takes three first-place OC Press Club awards


As the Olympic Games were getting underway in Tokyo, Japan, Behind the Badge was bringing home the gold in the Orange County Press Club’s 2021 Excellence in Journalism Contest, winning three first-place awards: one for news coverage, and two for photography.

BTB also won second place for its COVID-19 coverage. The four awards bring Behind the Badge’s total to 49 since it began entering the contest seven years ago.

For the second straight year, the Orange County Press Club awards ceremony was held virtually and hosted by Kedric Francis, long-time emcee of the awards presentations, and introduced by Hannah Fry, president of the Orange County Press Club.  A video of the awards announcements and list of winners can be seen on the Orange County Press Club website. The announcements were made July 22.

Behind the Badge’s first place awards were for an article by Greg Mellen about the incoming class of police recruits for the Tustin Police Department and the challenges of entering policing in this era. A judge wrote, “what could have been a routine story turned into something truly relevant and pointed.”

Screenshot taken during the Orange County Press Club awards ceremony.

Photographer Steven Georges won in two categories. His first place photos covering COVID-19 were called “chilling and raw” by a judge.

Georges also had the best photo essay for photos that accompanied a La Puente boy’s trek to police stations in a “First responder gratitude tour.” A judge wrote the photos were well-thought out and executed, “particularly the higher angle screen shot that took an otherwise uninteresting shot and made it extremely eye catching.”

Cindy Arora’s second place story detailed the life, death and funeral of Terrell Young, the first Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy to contract COVID-19 and die from complications.

Employees from UCI Medical Center gather at a window as police and fire vehicles drive by to show their appreciation during the COVID-19 crises.
Award-winning photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

The annual contest entries were judged by journalists from press clubs in Florida, Idaho, Milwaukee, Cleveland, New Orleans, Western Pennsylvania and San Francisco.

Behind the Badge won first place for work published in 2020.

The Behind the Badge winning work produced in 2020 is:


Best News (nontraditional or specialty publication): Greg Mellen: “Tustin’s police recruits remain dedicated to agency’s community policing, public safety mission.”

Best COVID-19 Photo Coverage: Steven Georges

Best Photo Essay: Steven Georges for First Responder Gratitude Tour


Best COVID-19 Coverage: (nontraditional or specialty publication) Cindy Arora: “Family says goodbye to Riverside Deputy Terrell Young, who died of COVID-19”