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Turlock's finest receive awards for service
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Turlock Police Sgt. Scott Ellis, Officers Queray McMihelk, Nathan Urban, Manpreet Kaur, and Kim Briggs, and Cpl. Ian Rodriguez display their respective awards received at Thursday's ceremony. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD / The Journal

The past year was a trying time for the Turlock Police Department as several of their law enforcement members came face to face with life-threatening events during the course of their daily duties.

On Thursday, the department paid homage to those individuals and honored the service of others at their annual awards ceremony.

The awardees are nominated by their peers and selected by the awards committee.

The department awarded the Employee of the Year award to Patrice Noble, who serves in a non-sworn position in special operations.

The Officer of the Year Award was given to Cpl. Ian Rodriguez, who was signaled out for his positive attitude and unwavering work ethic.

“I really appreciate this and am very honored,” Rodriguez told his peers while accepting the award.

 The Volunteer of the Year Award was bestowed upon  Skip Young. In nominating Young, one individual wrote that “he works like he’s getting paid.” As a volunteer, Young assists with day to day patrol operations.

The Excellence Award was given to the Neighborhood Services Unit, which is responsible for most of the city’s code enforcement. Even with a limited staff, the unit responded to more than 4,000 calls for service over the past year.

“The term excellence epitomizes the Neighborhood Services Unit,” Police Chief Robert Jackson said in presenting the award.

In addition to the annual awards, the department recognized several individuals for their service over the last year.

The Killeen, Texas police department sent certificates of appreciation to Cpl. Ramon Godoy, Officer Kevin Jeffries, Detective Frank Navarro, and Detective Steve Rodrigues for their roles in apprehending David Vega, an at large murder suspect wanted in Texas. Vega, a soldier at Fort Hood, was located at a Turlock motel after two months of being on the run and taken into custody without incident.

The Turlock Police Department honored four of their own with Medals of Meritorious Service. Sgt. Scott Ellis and Officers Manpreet Kaur and Queray McMihelk were given the medals for their actions taken during an encounter with an armed suspect on a freeway overpass. The suspect had led officers on a high speed pursuit before stopping on the overpass and trying to carjack another motorist by shooting at him. Fearing for the safety of the motorists, the Turlock officers fired and killed the suspect, later identified as Joseph Davis, 29, of Winton.

For the same incident Officer Nathan Urban was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal because it was his efforts that led to the discovery of Davis at a Turlock motel. Davis was a convicted felon and had fled from police just days before.

The fourth individual to receive the Medal of Meritorious Service was Officer Kim Briggs, who fatally shot an armed suspect after being fired upon while responding to a burglary call on Nikki Ann Way.

Sgt. Dave Shaw was awarded with a Purple Heart medal for the gunshot wound he received during the shoot-out with Davis. Shaw has recovered from his injury.

The department also awarded some division level commendations for actions taken over the past year. The commendations were given to officers Tony Argueta, Kristi Lavar, Lee Medlin, Kevin Blanc, David Hall, and Gerardo Higareda and emergency services dispatcher Jody Gill.