The Orange police and fire departments recognized their own in front of a crowd of over 200 guests on April 12 at a Rotary Club ceremony hosted by the Orange Banquet Center.
The Police and Fire Recognition awards, in its 44th year, was put on by the Orange, Orange North, and Orange Plaza Rotary clubs.
Speakers praised both departments for their service to the community, and, in particular, their response during the Canyon 2 Fire, which scorched more than 9,200 acres and destroyed homes and other structures.
“You are service above self every day as you show up to work,” said Carolyn Cavecche, Orange Rotary Club president and former Orange mayor.
Orange Police Chief Tom Kisela presented several awards to members of his department, as did Fire Chief Jack Thomas.
The Orange Police Department’s Tyler Raabe was awarded Police Officer of the Year and the Orange Fire Department’s Robert Dunwoody was recognized as Firefighter of the Year.
Dunwoody, a 19-year veteran of the department, was praised for his work ethic and organizing the Tee It Up for Talia Golf Tournament last year in honor of the wife of an Orange firefighter who died of cancer. The event raised $95,000.
Fire personnel displayed their skills during a brief scare minutes before the ceremony. Fire Engineer Jon Osterkamp, whose son, Tanner, was being recognized as the fire explorer of the year, began choking on a piece of food before being given the Heimlich maneuver by a colleague.
“I’m here to praise my son and here I am choking on chicken,” a visibly emotional Jon Osterkamp joked during a short impromptu speech.
Raabe, 25, began his career with the Orange PD in March 2015. He received his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach and is assigned to patrol duty. He was selected to work as a mentor in a preparatory course for new recruits, where his duties include helping them with marching, teaching them to handle stressful situations, and preparing them for the tough environment they will be subjected to once they begin training.
The award is voted on by members of the department.
“I’m super humbled and very appreciative,” Raabe said after the ceremony.
“He is probably one of the hardest-working individuals out there,” Kisela said. “He is one of those guys that gives you 12 hours of work. He gives constantly.”
Raabe loves working traffic duty and has been commended by his supervisors on several occasions over his short career. In July 2017, he was recognized for his investigation at the scene of a commercial burglary, in which he found evidence that led to the identification of the suspect involved.
Raabe said he’s wanted to be a police officer since childhood, when he would watch episodes of Law & Order.
Kisela said Raabe is proactive and always willing to assist other officers when needed.
“We’re out there to serve the community,” Raabe said. “I try everyday when I go out to assist the people regardless of what their issue could be.”
Raabe said he hopes to eventually become a police academy training officer.
In the meantime, the young officer will have plenty of opportunities to grow with Orange PD.
“It’s people like this that have a bright future at this police department,” Kisela said.
Other police department honorees include Keith Fawver, police volunteer of the year; Kelly Banderas, police explorer of the year; Ken Adams, police reserve officer of the year; Sgt. Scott Trausch, police supervisor of the year; and Sonum Sanchez, police non-sworn officer of the year.