Mar 29, 2016
No comments

A dedicated firefighter who adopted the abandoned puppy he rescued, and a police officer whose CPR skills helped save the lives of two people in separate incidents, were honored at the 2015 Richmond Public Safety Awards earlier this month.

The event, hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Richmond and Chevron Richmond, took place March 11 at the Richmond Police Activities League headquarters, 2200 Macdonald Ave.

The Firefighter of the Year Award went to  Zachary Jenssen (pictured above on left). Nearly a decade with the Richmond Fire Department, the engineer is a hero to many but perhaps none more than “Sparky.” He recently rescued the abandoned pup from a residential fire, personally took him to the veterinarian for treatment of burn injuries, then adopted him.

Jenssen is also being honored for having assisted in instructing every new firefighter recruit during his time at RFD. He supports the fire training division in providing hands-on emergency medical recertification training, and also oversees the Marine Response Program, which has helped distressed boaters along Richmond’s shoreline.  In that capacity, he was able to attain a highly-sought after grant award to extend the department’s marine operations training.

The 2015 Police Officer of the Year went to a police officer we’ve already written about. Last year, Officer Andrew Domenici (top picture, right) responded to a report of a man who was on the ground with a bicycle on top of him. The officer removed the bicycle, checked for vital sings, found no pulse, then administered CPR. The man’s pulse had returned by the time an ambulance arrived.

In a separate heroic act last year, Domenici and another officer responded to a suicide report and found a male hanging from a tree. After cutting him free, they administered CPR and the male regained a strong pulse and ultimately survived.

explorer.3-29Also honored this year was Lt. Joseph Garbarini (pictured with microphone) as 2015 Richmond Police Explorer of the Year. Garbarini has been integral in growing the program, which introduces youth to law enforcement careers while building self-confidence and character. Garbarini also created new standardized procedures and guidelines. Read more about his experience ascending as an Explorer here.

Two winners of the 2015 CAPER Volunteers of the Year award — Sigurd L. Szerlip and Lymann Young — were honored for being diligent and integral members of the Citizens Advisory Panel on Emergency Readiness.

And the 2015 RPD Teamwork Award went to the Richmond Police Firearms and Tactics Cadre (picture  below), which showed commitment to working as a cohesive team, ensuring officers receive high-level monthly training, and exemplifying a progressive approach to policing. Team members include Det. C. Calderan; Det. M. Canelo; Officer C. Decious; Officer J DeOrian; Sgt. J. Lopez; Sgt. T. Mollenbernd; Lt. J. Schlemmer; Sgt. E. Soto; Officer J. Tong; Officer J. Villalobos; Officer G. Vegas; and Officer K. Palma.

cadre.3-29One of the recipients of the Teamwork Award, Officer Gus Vegas, was tragically killed in an apparent domestic violence incident at his home in Vallejo on Feb. 11. Vegas’ wife and family attended this month’s ceremony and accepted the award in his honor.

Along with Kiwanis Club and Chevron, the yearly event was supported by Mechanics Bank, YMCA East Bay, Bowler Mart/Signs by Scott, Malvern Wilson Alumni Associate and NIKA Catering.

The man pictured in the top photo in the middle is Richmond Fire Chief Adrian Sheppard.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.