Jean Lamphere, who started the Laguna Beach police department’s volunteer program in 1964, received a clock in recognition of her retirement and 13,835 hours of service.
The couple Stephen Bramucci and Nikta Nilchian carried away letters of appreciation for their service as Good Samaritans, pulling two young children to safety from the back window of a crumpled, smoldering car while comforting their dying mother.
And a ribbon of commendation encircled Officer Mike Lee for running down fleeing suspects that had absconded with $5,000 in garments from a Forest Avenue boutique.
These were among 50 people, most of them sworn officers, who received awards and commendations for exceptional service Wednesday, April 12, at a presentation attended by nearly 200 people and organized by the Exchange Club’s Sande St. John.
One of the few unscripted moments that occurred at the event center Seven Degrees was a surprise for its co-owner, Mark Orgill. Slack-jawed and eyebrows arched, Orgill seemed stuck to his chair when St. John announced him as the recipient of the club’s Americanism award. She honored him for his decades of community service, “lighting up the town and lighting up the hill,” a reference to the projection of an American flag on the hillside opposite the center.
Mayor Toni Iseman said the good standing of the police department is one of the few areas where her fellow council colleagues find common ground. “We rest easy because of you,” she said.
In addition to the awards, promotions were also awarded to six sworn officers, two beach patrol officers and a dispatcher.
Awards for officers of the year and civilians of the year for 2015 and ’16 went to Beckie White and Cornelius Ashton, and Jenna Moore and Matt Meyer, respectively.
Community Services Officer Natasha Hernandez received the command staff’s excellence award. “Her fingerprints are on everything we do,” said Police Chief Laura Farinella, who identified self-initiative, innovation, dedication and humility as traits valued in future department leaders.
Bramucci, a 15-year resident and children’s book author, said he felt proud to be one of the few civilians included in a ceremony where leaders celebrated employees doing their job well.
He came away changed by Mother’s Day of 2015 when he assisted the youngsters from Mission Viejo traumatized by a car crash. He attended their mother’s funeral, remains in contact with their grandmother and established a gofundme campaign on their behalf. “You want to be that person who supports people that are in need,” he said.
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