In a room packed with some 500 police officers and command staff from law enforcement agencies from four counties, two Orange PD officers emerged as key honorees at MADD Southern California’s recent Law Enforcement & Prosecutor Recognition luncheon.
For the first time, the annual event recognized, at a single ceremony, top-performing officers making DUI arrests from four counties: Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego.
And the “Best of the Best” was OPD Officer Daniel O’Neil-Tennant, who made 273 DUI arrests in 2016 — 59 more than the second-best performer, Officer Michael Gissel of the Fontana PD, with 214 arrests.
“During the beginning of my career, I quickly figured out DUI enforcement was where I could make an impact and help keep the community safe,” O’Neil-Tennant said. “The number of injuries and deaths prevented by DUI enforcement is unknown. However, if out of all the DUI drivers I arrested, I prevented one innocent person from being injured or killed – it was absolutely worth it.”
Rounding out the foursome of top DUI arresting officers in the four counties in 2016 was Deputy Juan Andrade of the Moreno Valley office of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, with 148 arrests, and Chula Vista PD Officer Raul Naranjo, with 138.
Orange PD Officer Sharif Muzayen, nearly killed after being hit by a drunk driver while on duty in December 2016, was surprised to receive a MADD Community Hero Award, for which he received a standing ovation at the luncheon, held June 2 at the Business EXPO Center in Anaheim.
“Thank you so much,” Muzayen told attendees. “I humbly say, “Thank you.’”
In 2016, officers in the four counties made a total of 16,366 DUI arrests.
“You’re doing God’s work,” Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, a former OCDA prosecutor, told all of the attendees during his comments. “I don’t care if these (DUI) incidents happened 25 years ago or yesterday; we never forget them. They are emblazoned in our hearts and in our minds.”
Guest speaker Suzie Price, a deputy district attorney with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office who prosecuted the drunk driver who killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two of his friends, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson, gave a presentation about changes in the state law regarding marijuana.
She also explained how, in 2008, the OCDA, along with then-Fullerton PD Capt. George Crum and the Orange County Crime Lab, developed a DUI vertical unit at the OCDA that now is a model statewide. The OCDA has 10 prosecutors dedicated to DUI cases, with each prosecutor seeing cases through from start to finish.
Attorney James Johnson, of Johnson Attorneys Group, was a MADD Community Award winner.
Johnson has been supporting MADD since 2014 when he did his first Walk Like MADD 5k walk. This year, he donated $4,000 and expanded from one to four walks: in San Bernardino, Huntington Beach, Bakersfield and Ventura.
“I really believe in this organization,” Johnson said. “I personally speak with victims of DUI crashes all the time. Many of our clients have been injured or have lost loved ones in DUI crashes. It’s a life-altering event.”
Added Johnson, a married father of four young children:
“These crashes involving drunk drivers are no accident because they are completely preventable. That is the main reason why I support MADD. Even if just one life is saved by getting the message out and reminding people not to drink and drive, it’s well worth the time and effort.”
Other award-winners at the MADD event included:
Deuce Award Recipients, 25-49 DUI arrests
Anaheim PD — Officer Adrian Yoon, 28; Officer Tom Poer, 26; Officer Matt Ellis, 26
Fullerton PD — Officer Michael Halverson, 31; Corporal Kyle Baas, 31; Corporal Kenton Hampton, 31; Officer Jae Song, 29; Officer Matthew Kalscheuer, 27
La Habra PD — Officer Justin Cassidy, 35; Officer Muris Lacarevic, 29
Orange County Sheriff’s Department — Airport Deputy John Popp, 31; Aliso Viejo Deputy Denise French, 27; Dana Point Deputy Scott Zachariah, 40; Investigations Deputy Daniel Merz, 32; Laguna Niguel Deputy John Hopkins, 39; Rancho Santa Margarita Deputy Mark Castro, 44; Stanton Deputy Jesus Maldonado, 25
Orange PD — Officer Kirk Salmon, 40; Officer Sharif Muzayen, 25; Officer Colten Ivans, 32
Tustin PD — Officer Javon Smith, 26
MADD Award Recipients, 50-99 DUI arrests
Fullerton PD — Corporal Scott Flynn, 54; Corporal Bryan Bybee, 50
OCSD — Yorba Linda Deputy William Simandl, 86