Described as the Oscars for the Dallas Police Department, more than 600 gathered to attend the 35th annual Friends of Dallas Police Banquet held Monday (Nov.6) at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.
The stars of the evening were the 115 police officers and non-sworn employees honored for their strong leadership, courage and exceptional service demonstrated throughout the past year. Not only were Medals of Valor and Life Saving Awards presented, but top honors were announced for Officer of the Year, Supervisor of the Year, Detective of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Non-Sworn Employee and more. For a fifth year, Highland Capital Management stepped up as presenting sponsor.
George Dunham, talk radio host for sports radio’s The Ticket, was tapped to keep the jam-packed program moving. The evening began as the Dallas Police Honor Guard and the Dallas Metro Police Pipes & Drums presented the colors in a moving ceremony, followed by the National Anthem performed by the Dallas Police Choir and the invocation given by Dallas Police Chaplain Rayford Butler.
Friends of Dallas Police Chairman Lamonte Thomas described the DPD as “one of the finest police departments in our nation.”
“When I hear of the everyday sacrifice and heroism demonstrated on the streets and behind the scenes by the men and women of the Dallas Police Department, I am humbled, proud and grateful,” he added.
This was the first Friends of the Dallas Police Banquet for Dallas’ new “top cop” – Chief U. Renee Hall, who was on hand to present the awards and take photos with all 115 winners.
Elected officials from local to national levels were there in force to back the blue. In addition to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who delivered remarks at the VIP reception, special guests included Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano, and Dallas City Councilmembers Tennell Atkins, Rick Callahan, Jennifer Gates, Omar Narvaez and Adam McGough. Also attending were Dallas City Manager T. C. Broadnax, Dallas Fire and Rescue Chief David Coatney, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County Commissioners Dr. Elba Garcia and Theresa Daniel, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson, State Senator Don Huffines, State Representative Cindy Burkett and State Representative Toni Rose, and representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Congressman Pete Session, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, former Congressman Ralph Hall and State Representative Jason Villalba.
One highlight was the introduction of Dallas Fire and Rescue firefighter and paramedic William An, who was seriously injured when shot by a suspect. Nine officers – including Sergeant Robert Watson who rescued An, put him in his police car and took him to the hospital thereby saving his life – were awarded Medals of Valor for their bravery under fire. Watson invited An and his family to sit at his table with his family members. (It was the first time they’d seen each other in a very long time.) The Dallas Morning News’ Naheed Rajwani interviewed An that evening and reported the following:
“An’s 3-week-old son is named Watson, which An’s wife had picked out before the shooting. The couple realized later that it was the lifesaving sergeant’s last name, too.
“Purely coincidental,” An said, “but some people say there’s no such thing as coincidences.”
Top awards were given to Officer Joe King, who was named the John T. McCarthy Officer of the Year, and Stephanie Mendoza, who was named the James Taylor Non-Sworn Employee of the Year. Officer King works in the Legal Services Division, and Mendoza works as an office assistant in the Auto Thefts Division.
Other winners included Detective Noe Camacho named the James R. Leavelle Detective of the Year, Sergeant Ivan Hunter named the Marvin R. Bullard Supervisor of the Year, Senior Corporal David Feinstein named Field Training Officer of the Year, Reserve Lieutenant D’Andrea Gadbury named Supervisor of the Year, Fernando Garcia named the Johnny Sides Rookie of the Year, and Supervisor III Brian Hansen named Non-Sworn Supervisor of the Year.
In addition to their awards, the top honorees received a variety of prizes, ranging from hotel stays and entertainment packages, to dinners and VISA cards.
Also, two $1,500 scholarships were presented to the children of Dallas police officers. The 2017 Educational Scholarship Awards went to Courtney Jones, the daughter of Detective Charles Jones, and Hannah Kim, daughter of Senior Corporal David Kim.
There was no lack of community support! In addition to presenting sponsor Highland Capital Management, the Chief Sponsors at the $10,000-$25,000 level were The Men & Women of Hunt Consolidated, Inc.; The Marilyn & Sonny Oates Foundation; and Mr. and Mrs. Kenny A. Troutt. Major Sponsors at the $5,000 level were Cigna; Freeman Auto Group; Don Henley & Family; Al G. Hill, Jr.; Ellen & John McStay; Scovell Family Foundation; Sewell; and Marianne & Roger Staubach. Lieutenant Sponsors at the $3,500 level were Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix; Kroger; and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP. And thanks to the dozens of other sponsors for their wonderful contributions.