Police, fire fighters, lifeguards and supporters are honored

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Seal Beach Police Officer of the Year, Jon Ainley is flanked by Commander Phil Gonshak, left, Chief Joe Miller, second from left, and Commander Steve Bowles. Photo by Ted Apodaca

Seventh Annual Public Safety Awards recognize efforts

Seal Beach Police and other area first responders recognized those in the field, who serve the local community at the Seventh Annual Public Safety Awards on Thursday at Old Ranch Country Club.

The breakfast event recognized contributors in police, fire, lifeguard and support services for several local groups. The event included recognizing Seal Beach Police Department’s Officer of the Year. In her introduction, Seal Beach Mayor Pro Tem Schelly Sustarsic recognized the group effort of all the awardees, for their work in helping keep the community safe.

“We need you, we’re grateful to you and we thank you for your service,” Sustarsic said.

Seal Beach Police Officer of the Year was awarded to Jon Ainley, who joined Seal Beach PD in 2017 and has since taken on roles as Field Training Officer, Special Enforcement Team and Leisure World Investigator. Seal Beach Police officer and West County SWAT Team member Jake Sansenbach was recognized the Top Gun award winner for his shooting prowess.

Michael Salazar was named the Seal Beach Firefighter of the Year for his service, not only in the local area, but around the country. Salazar was instrumental in responding to a mass casualty incident that occurred on the 405 freeway in March of this year. The Task Force was also deployed to assist in Hurricanes Harvey and Florence. At this year’s Orange County Fire Authority Best and Bravest Ceremony, Salazar was awarded a Medal of Courage for a rescue that occurred while he was deployed at Hurricane Florence.

Sergeant Michael Henderson was named Supervisor of the Year. Henderson currently serves as the department’s Operations Administrative Segeant, and is responsible for Internal Affairs, Training and Public Information.

There were several Chief’s Commendation awards handed out, including one to Police Officer Jacob Fillers, who has been a leader in DUI arrests. He was also awarded the MADD Award for his efforts in arresting suspected drunk drivers.

Other recipients of Chief’s Commendations included Emergency Manager Brevyn Mettler, who works with Huntington Beach, but has assisted Seal Beach Police on many occasions. Nancy Ralsten was recognized for her many support roles, including Management Analyst; Corporal Brian Gray; Lead Dispatcher Michael Berry; Senior Community Services Officer Aine Eisenhauer; the Seal Beach Parking Enforcement Team and civilian Brian Caiati, who assisted a victim who had been hit by a vehicle that ran through a storefront. Caiati was at the scene and helped keep the victim stable and calm while first responders were on their way.

West Cities Police Communications (West-Comm) Lead Dispatcher Lindsay Lenart was named Dispatcher of the Year, Alan Ginsburg was named RACES Member of the Year and Art Remnet was named CERT Member of the Year. CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) provides support to first responders during major disasters and other large operations. RACES offers Ham Radio support in the event of loss of land and cellular communications.

Dave Harms was voted VIP Member of the Year and TJ Blackledge was named Explorer of the Year. Blackledge is a Police Explorer Sergeant and is currently a junior at Los Alamitos High School. Three members of the Seal Beach Lifeguards were also recognized. All Seal Beach residents, Hayden Smith was named Jr. Lifeguard Instructor of the Year, Kyle Marshall was named Area Supervisor of the Year and Jeremy Jenks was named Tower Guard of the Year.

Community Services Officer, Grey Tavasci was named Professional Employee of the Year. Also a Los Al High grad, Tavasci was hired as an aide in traffic and parking and currently works in records for Seal Beach PD.

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