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Best of Ceres finest given kudos
Five public safety employees given honors at Law & Order Night
Police Officers of the Year Brittney England (left) and Art Hively (right).

Ceres Police Detective Arthur Hively and patrol officer Brittney England were both given "Ceres Police Officer of the Year" honors at the annual Law & Order Night sponsored by the American Legion Ceres Post 491 on Tuesday, April 23.

Bret Presson was named "Ceres Firefighter of the Year" and Records Clerk Lilia Franco was named "Support Person of the Year."

David McCann was honored as the "Ceres Volunteer in Public Safety of the Year."

All five were selected by their peers based on the criteria of having demonstrated individual and extraordinary accomplishments in public safety. Nominations are made using the following criteria: community involvement, outstanding accomplishments, "under the radar" employees, those who demonstrate leadership traits, and heroics.

During the banquet held at the Ceres American Legion Memorial Building, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson presented a group award presented to the Stanislaus County Sheriff Crime Scene Investigator Team of Amber Brown, Dianna Kirk, Peggy MacRury, Michelle Switzer and the late Mary Ann Donahou who was killed in a Hughson accident on Dec. 30, 2011.

Ceres Police Department honored two police officers this year, as Chief de Werk wanted to recognize both for representing two different styles of policing: "This organization emphasizes high energy police work, and at the same time, in-depth, methodical investigations. We think it's necessary to recognize these two people as excellent examples of each end of the outstanding policing spectrum."

Detective Hively is currently assigned to investigations and works in a dual capacity: carrying a full caseload of Crimes Against Children (CAC), in addition to being the go-to investigator in the Valley for high-technology crimes. Each assignment is a full-time job on its own, yet he continues to assist other agencies in this county, as well as San Joaquin, Calaveras, and Merced counties. Hively often works on his days off from home by reading technology manuals and logging onto his work computer from home to complete time-sensitive reports to stay caught up. On more than one occasion, he has paid out of his own pocket to attend schools needed to maintain his expertise in the high-technology field. Chief Art deWerk said Hively is "highly organized, efficient, and motivated which stems from his time as an officer in the military and as a supervisor at a larger agency. To his frustration, at time, he struggles with Ceres Police Department's ‘move fast and think on your feet culture,' as we often fly by the seat of our pants. He is an asset to this agency and is one of a kind. He will be hard to replace when he decides to retire for the second time in his long public service career."

England was honored as "an exemplary employee who is very proactive and takes care of the needs of our citizens." DeWerk called her a self-starter with statistics to prove it: she was the highest arresting police officer for the year 2012, in addition to being one of the top officers for citations, bicycle stops and traffic stops. England was one of the department's officers recognized by MADD at their annual awards luncheon for her DUI arrests and received a Chiefs Award for lifesaving in May of 2012. "She is a great co-worker who rarely calls in sick, is always coming in to work for her fellow officers when she can, and stays late working long hours whenever there is a need without complaint," said deWerk.

Presson, who joined Ceres Fire Department in July, 2008, is an engineer who is assigned as the department's training coordinator. He has continued his education by attending state level training courses which directly relate to his Training Coordinator position at Ceres Fire Department. Bret is very active in the Stanislaus County Training Officers Association and was instrumental in planning, organizing, and conducting the training academy for the six firefighters that were hired under the Department of Homeland Security Grant. He also plans, distributes, tracks and records all training activities within the department. Well-liked and respected by his peers, Presson has earned a great reputation with other training officers throughout the county. "He is always willing to lend a hand and is quick to recognize someone in need," said deWerk. "He goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that all aspects of his job are completed in a timely manner and to the best of his ability."

Franco was described as a dedicated employee who is often works after hours and on weekends to stay on top of her workload and keep things running smoothly in the Ceres Police Records Department. She is responsible and hard-working, often designated as the acting supervisor when the Support Services Supervisor is out of the office. "She is the go-to gal for statistical information, never complaining when her work is interrupted by coworkers asking for data at the last minute, but she is assertive enough to let people know when what they are asking for is unrealistic," said deWerk. "She is especially helpful to the traffic sergeant, who relies on her to produce timely and accurate data for the various traffic enforcement grants that he manages. She is intrinsically motivated, always takes pride in her work and looks for efficiencies in the various records functions. She is also a lifelong learner, as takes she advantage of training opportunities and graduated with her bachelor's degree last year."

DeWerk said that Franco is one of the many city employees who are "absorbing the increased workload and doing more with less" as the city staff has been trimmed due to less revenue.

Franco was recently recognized at the MADD Law Enforcement Recognition event for her contributions to the Avoid the 12 program.

McCann became a member of the Ceres Public Safety Volunteer program in December 2010 and has accepted the challenge to take the role as a coordinator of the program. He is credited with resurrecting the program and is redesigning the program's goals and services to the community. David juggles a full-time job, family, and devotes his spare time to the volunteer program. He often works on the weekends patrolling shopping centers and neighborhoods and always volunteers to help the patrol officers by filling out towing forms to free up time.

McCann also serves as the Ceres Crime Stoppers liaison and maintains a positive rapport with representatives from other agencies. He is also a board member and a presenter for the Stanislaus County Regional Volunteer Academy hosted by Turlock Police Department.

Chief de Werk presented Chief's Awards to a group of officers who were involved in a large, multi-agency investigation that resulted in multiple arrests and the demise of a local criminal street gang that was terrorizing our community.