Responding to thousands of calls, getting the crime rate down and closing the book on a 2011 murder case were among the Cypress Police Department’s achievements celebrated at this year’s annual Cypress Police appreciation lunch.
Hundreds gathered at the Cypress Community Center Wednesday, May 27, for the Cypress Police Foundation’s annual event to honor employees who have provided exceptional service and highlight the work of the department.
One of the attendees and a supporter of public safety, Cypress Mayor Rob Johnson said, “I am extremely proud of the men and women of the Cypress Police Department. They are well-respected and appreciated by our community.”
Police in 2014 responded to more than 22,900 calls for service, including nearly 400 traffic collisions, and initiated more than 14,000 contacts with residents, said Interim Police Chief Rod Cox.
“Those personnel … are the front line of public safety in our community and daily they put themselves in harm’s way to keep the community safe,” he said.
Police saw a 17 percent drop in Part I crimes, which include homicide, rape, robbery, assault and burglary, among others.
Detectives also investigated more than 250 cases in 2014, and the department celebrated the conviction of the man who in 2011 killed 24-year-old Marques Murray at the Cypress Lodge Motel.
Murray was fatally shot by Steven Matthew LeClaire Jr., 26, after LeClaire opened fire in a drunken rage while watching a basketball game with his father, Murray and another acquaintance.
LeClaire was sentenced to 90 years-to-life plus an additional 11 years and four months, Cox said.
“So many police department employees sitting in this room today played a huge role in bringing justice to the Murray family,” Cox said. “The suspect could be 127 years old before he even sees a parole board.
“This case goes right to the core of our mission, and we must never forget about the victims and their families who are impacted by this senseless crime.”
In addition to solid police work, Cypress PD also has fostered a strong relationship with the community which, Cox said, is essential for effective policing.
The department in 2014 reinstated its Interfaith program, which blends leaders from various faith groups and the police department to tackle various social and public safety issues, and created a second liaison position to help the homeless.
Police also participated in numerous events including Tip-A-Cop, Read Across America, the Cypress Community Festival and the Special Olympics Torch Run.
Cox thanked the audience for their continued support saying positive police interactions will remain an important part of the department’s mission.
“Each and every one of us cares about the community and the profession, and is committed to making Cypress the safest city it can be,” Cox said. “And, as we work in the most challenging of times in the history of law enforcement, they continue to hold the line, to act with professionalism, to build relationships and comport themselves in a manner that garners public trust.”
Here are the 2014 honorees:
Gold Distinguished Service Award: Officer Mike McBain
McBain and his K-9 partner Pasko played a critical role in the pursuit of a possibly armed suspect evading police in Westminster.
The suspect had led Westminster police on two dangerous high-speed vehicle pursuits, even ramming an officer’s vehicle at one point during the chase.
McBain was called to assist.
He located the suspect and attempted to pull him over, but the man continued to speed and weave through traffic. The chase eventually made its way to the 405 freeway, where the suspect then lost control of his truck.
The suspect crashed down an embankment, and the truck burst into flames.
McBain, along with officers from the Westminster and Seal Beach police departments, helped pull the suspect and his passenger, who died in the crash, from the burning vehicle.
His actions, and those of the other officers, saved the man’s life, Cox said.
Officer of the Year: Jeffrey S. Swift
Swift is a leader in the department, ready to serve in whatever capacity the department and community needs, which helped earn him the distinction of Officer of the Year.
In 2014, Swift received a commendation for stepping in as a patrol sergeant — a career move that meant many professional and personal changes for the greater good of the department.
Swift joined Cypress PD in 1995 and has served in a variety of assignments including the Special Response Team, SWAT and family crimes investigator, among others.
He currently is one of three CPD motor officers.
Swift also is involved in Cypress’ many community events including the Challenge Cup Relay Race, Open House and the Cypress Community Festival.
He has received several commendations and letters from the organization and the community for his work keeping Cypress safe.
Employee of the Year: Doreen A. Shackelford
Shackelford started with Cypress PD in 1990 as a part-time police aide and worked her way up to a full-time position in 1996.
She has received recognition for her work in the Personnel and Training Bureau, where she plays a role in the department’s hiring.
Shackelford received a commendation for her work with recruiting, testing and hiring hundreds of candidates to fill vacancies in the police department.
Citizen of the Year: Brenda A. Perikli
Perikli, a Disneyland Resort security officer, has dedicated 771 hours to the Cypress Police Department since June 2013.
She has volunteered at various community events including the Cypress Community Festival and National Night Out, and helped coordinate events including police promotional and retirement celebrations.
Special recognition: Wayne Schoemann
Schoemann is Cypress PD’s first volunteer to achieve 4,000 hours of service.
He has been with the department for 12 years helping with a variety of events including National Night Out the Cypress Community Festival, Tip-A-Cop and the department Open House.