SYV student honored for school project used in real-life situations


Staff Report


The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office honored sheriff’s employees and community members at a recognition awards program and luncheon held at the Earl Warren Showgrounds on Oct. 13. 

The award recipients were recognized for their exemplary service during 2020. Lunch was provided by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse who have consistently hosted the event as a gesture of support and thanks to the honorees. 

The award presentation began with a Certificate of Merit presented to Julia Rhodes, a 14-year-old junior high school student in Santa Ynez who had the idea to create autism sensory bags for people with special needs as part of a school project. 

Julia assembled six of these sensory bags and presented them during a daily briefing at the Solvang station, where she explained how they can be used on calls involving children on the autism spectrum. One of these toolkits was effectively used by a deputy during a call involving an autistic child. Sheriff Brown thanked Julia for her great concern, generosity and her innovative contribution to the Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Santa Barbara County. 

Community member David Sparer was also presented with a Certificate of Merit for his donation of personal protection equipment (PPE) for first responders during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sparer realized in the early stages of the pandemic the desperate need for PPE for essential workers. He began the process of manufacturing and donating cloth face masks for first responders, health care workers and hospice nurses throughout the county. By the end of 2020, Sparer had donated over 1,200 masks to the Sheriff’s Office alone and because of his dedication, support and generosity, many essential workers, including sheriff’s personnel, were better protected while they continued to fulfill their duties to the people of Santa Barbara County.

United States Marine Corp Forces Reserve Brigadier General Fred Lopez (ret.)  presented Sheriff’s Sergeant Jarrett Morris with the Military Order of the World Wars Law and Order Individual Award. Sergeant Morris was honored for his distinguished career, and specifically his outstanding leadership this past year which included his supervision of the Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit, his role as the Coroner’s Sergeant during the 1/9 Debris Flow and Conception dive boat disaster and his leadership of the Sheriff’s Office Mobile Field Force team. 

Fifteen Sheriff’s deputies received a commendation for Narcan saves where they administered Narcan in a manner that resulted in the reversal of a suspected opioid overdose and prevented a victim from dying. These deputies include Sheriff Sergeant Edward Moss, Sheriff’s Deputy Bruno Bertuzzi, Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Cianciarulo, Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Elizalde, Sheriff’s Deputy Hartley Freedman, Sheriff’s Deputy Garrett Gish, Sheriff’s Deputy John Heil, Sheriff’s Deputy Kody Kiesow, Sheriff’s Deputy Damien Marquez, Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Oropeza, Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Riggar, Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Samaniego, Sheriff’s Deputy Ben Sandu, Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Skall, and Sheriff’s Deputy John Valenti. 

Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Matthew West received the Lifesaving Award for his response to a call involving a 26-year-old male who was reportedly non-responsive and not breathing. Sheriff’s Deputy Shawn Banks and Deputy Celeste Johnson were also presented with the Lifesaving Award for their response to a suspected overdose call. 

Sheriff’s Senior Deputy David Frawley, Sheriff’s Deputies Nicholas Adomaitis and Gregory Plett, and Behavioral Wellness Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Melissa Miller received the Lifesaving Award for their response to a call for a suicidal subject. Sheriff’s dispatch received a request from the San Luis Obispo Police Department to check the welfare of a Cal Poly student who had sent a text message to his roommate stating he was “in a tree with a noose.” Deputies and LMFT Miller responded to the area of the Cold Spring Bridge on Highway 154 where they found the young man sitting on a large branch 15 feet up in a tree, about 75 yards away. Responders spent hours patiently talking with the student, slowly building a rapport, and moving incrementally closer to him. After several hours, the student abruptly jumped from the tree. Plett reached the student first and immediately cut the rope that was suspending him. Plett and Adomaitis lowered him to the ground, removed the noose from around the student’s neck and stabilized his head. The patient was extricated and transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital where he eventually recovered from this harrowing ordeal.

Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Patrick Hayes and Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Morales received the Lifesaving Award along with community members Beth Couba, Tess Edwards, Laura Morales and Melissa Reiman who were awarded Certificates of Merit for saving the life of a 70-year-old man who appeared to have suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the boardwalk near Linden Avenue in Carpinteria. 

Sheriff’s Commander Darin Fotheringham received the Meritorious Service Medal for his work on a project that will save the Sheriff’s Office over $240,000 in the first year, and in excess of $1.5 million over 10 years. Fotheringham began his career with the Sheriff’s Office in 1989 and he has held assignments overseeing operations in almost every division within our agency. In 2019, while assigned to the Operations Support Division, Fotheringham began looking into the use of leased vehicles from the Enterprise fleet for the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office. Based on Fotheringham’s extensive research, the Sheriff’s Office decided to contract with Enterprise for the lease of over 100 vehicles which will result in a better product and service for the Sheriff’s Office as well as save us hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be redirected to other needs. 

The Sheriff’s Office Mobile Field Force (MFF) team was awarded a Unit Citation for their tireless efforts, adaptability and outstanding performance during their deployments to outside counties. The MFF team was deployed to several mutual-aid requests in the Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Hollywood areas, as well as to San Luis Obispo County to assist with ongoing civil unrest, violent protesting and mass looting. 

The Sheriff’s Office Custody Branch was also awarded a Unit Citation for its tireless efforts, courage, and resilience during difficult and unprecedented times. 

The Sheriff’s Office congratulates and thanks all the award recipients for their exemplary service to the community.