Rendering aid to a stranger.
Preventing a 1-year-old from being run over in the street.
Helping a woman trapped in a drainage ditch.
These were just a few of the 109 acts of bravery, kindness and responsibility Garden Grove residents made in 2015 that earned them a Chief’s Coin for Merit — the PD’s way of honoring those who step up to help make their community a better place.
At the fifth-annual Chief’s Coin for Merit Dinner on Feb. 25, Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin said the partnership between his department and members of the community is critical to keeping crime down in the city.
Elgin praised those in attendance for stepping up.
“In today’s climate,” the chief said, “it’s not uncommon for people to stay in their own lane, kind of with their blinders up. The people in this room decided to get out of their own lane and they decided to do something for the good of the community.”
Added Elgin: “They didn’t worry about the fear of reprisal or political correctness or retaliation. The people in this room stepped up and were not afraid to get out of their lane.”
Former GGPD Chief Kevin Raney started the coin program five years ago, part of the agency’s community policing efforts that began in 1993.
Each of the GGPD’s 200-plus sworn and civilian employees are given a coin at he beginning of the year to award a person or persons for unexpected acts of bravery, kindness or acts of responsibility.
To date, more than 500 coins have been awarded.
“Continue to do your part in your community,” Elgin said. “Continue to step up. Don’t be afraid…You are part of us, we are part of you, and we can’t do it without you.”
Capt. Kevin Boddy presented the awards.
Here are a few examples of coin recipients for 2015:
Mary Roughton, 12/8/15, Officer Hatfield
Mary noticed a vehicle parked in front of her neighbor’s home that she did not recognize. Observing from her living room window, she watched as two males began opening an access gate to the backyard of the home. Mary realized something was wrong and took out her cell phone and began taking pictures of the suspects and the vehicle.
Mary approached the suspects as they were loading numerous tools into the back of the truck. When they began to avoid having their picture taken and covering the license plate, she moved away from the front of the vehicle. She was assaulted by one of the suspects and fell inside the truck as it began to flee the location.
Mary threw the suspect’s wallet out of the truck and pulled on the steering wheel, causing the truck to crash into a wall. The suspects fled the area, leaving the truck behind.
These actions led to the apprehension and identification of all involved suspects. Mary is to be commended for her actions in helping to stop a crime and assisting police with their apprehension.
Jimmy Barela and Anthony Mercado, 9/29/15, Officer Ortiz
Officers were dispatched to the Garden View Apartments to assist the Garden Grove Fire Department in a drowning.
Jimmy heard several children from the complex yelling for him. He went to the patio where the children informed him that someone was drowning in the pool. Jimmy ran to the pool and observed a male face down at the bottom of the pool not moving.
He jumped over the pool security fence and threw the lifesaving donut into the pool. He yelled for help, and as he contemplated jumping in the pool in order to attempt to retrieve the male, he saw Anthony coming to the pool area. Jimmy let Anthony into the pool area, and then ran to the secured apartment entrance in order to allow emergency personnel in.
Anthony said his mother was yelling from the apartment patio that someone was drowning in the pool. Anthony saw the man was face down in the 8-ft. deep end. He took off his clothing and jumped into the pool, retrieving the male. He and another individual began CPR until fire department medics relieved them.
For their heroism, Jimmy and Anthony were awarded the Chief’s Coin for Merit.
Sarah Nguyen, 4/19/15, Officer Cox
Sarah was conducting her morning security sweep at Santa Storage. She noticed a U-Haul vehicle transporter loaded with a Toyota Previa parked in the storage lot. After contacting the renter of the trailer and van, Sarah realized both had been stolen from a hotel in Cypress.
She contacted GGPD and continued to review surveillance video to see who had dropped off the vehicle transporter and the van. She recognized a customer she dealt with on multiple occasions as the driver of the U-Haul truck. She linked the customer to a storage unit where three men with trucks were unloading stolen household belongings.
Sarah monitored the men as GGPD arrived on scene. She provided exact details to officers and guided them to the locker where the subjects were. Officers detained and arrested all three men. Sarah provided officers and detectives with video footage and a timeline with the events that had taken place over the past 24 hours.
Sarah provided the family, whose U-Haul had been stolen with all their belongings, with a storage unit free of charge until they could rent another U-Haul truck to store it in. Without Sarah’s efforts and attention to detail, the family would be without all of their belongings.