The Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime selected three Santa Barbara Police Officers to receive the H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor: Officer Adrian Gutierrez, Officer Christina Ortega, and Officer Davina Valerio.
They were presented the award Wednesday by Interim Police Chief Bernard Melekian.
These three officers responded to a serious structure fire in the 700 block of Spring Street on Nov. 17.
The three officers, along with one community member, rescued a trapped man during a full blown residential structure fire. Without the quick thinking and immediate response of the officers, it is believed the trapped man would have perished in the fire.
“It was my honor to award Officer Adrian Gutierrez, Officer Christina Ortega, and Officer Davina Valerio with the H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor. The Santa Barbara Police Department, as well as the entire community of Santa Barbara thanks these Officers for their heroic actions,” said Chief Melekian.
Officer Gutierrez has been serving at the Santa Barbara Police Department for 22 years.
He has had numerous assignments during his time here at the department. Those include patrol officer, beat coordinator, school resource officer, crisis negotiations officer and community liaison officer. He is also one of the Police Activities League officers.
Officer Ortega has been serving at the Santa Barbara Police Department for nearly 22 years. She has worked as a first aid instructor, crowd control instructor and Drinking Driving Team officer.
She currently is serving as a field training officer on patrol, teaching and mentoring officers who have just completed the police academy.
Officer Valerio was on field training with Officer Ortega at the time the call came to rescue the trapped man. It was only her fifth day as a patrol officer. Since then, she has successfully completed her field training program and is currently serving as a solo patrol Officer in the Mesa neighborhood and upper Westside.
The three officers received an award named after a Santa Barbara police detective.
On Jan. 12, 1970, Detective H. Thomas Guerry was conducting an investigation and driving on Chapala Street when he noticed two wanted men walking in the area of Ortega Street and Bradbury Avenue. As he approached the intersection, the wanted men split apart from one another and began to walk back to each side of the front of the police vehicle. As the detective stepped from his vehicle, both wanted subjects opened fire with handguns, fatally wounding Detective Guerry.
The death of Detective Tom Guerry ripped through the heart of Santa Barbara, as well as the entire region. In memory of the detective, the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime established the H. Thomas Guerry award.
Each year, law enforcement officers from agencies in Santa Barbara County are honored for valor, skill in conflict resolution, and outstanding overall performance. The Guerry Award continues to be the most coveted and respected award one can receive in the county, according to a news release.
See Saturday’s News-Press for the names of more recipients of this year’s awards.