Congratulations to the 2021 Peace Officers & Firefighters of the Year! As always, we want to thank our business sponsors that make events like this available to our members and our greater Lake Houston community. Today’s sponsors include…
Presenting Sponsor: The Light of the World Christian Fellowship
Platinum Sponsor: United Community Credit Union
Awards SponsorJoiner Architects, Inc.
Gold Sponsors: Community Resource Credit Union Memorial Hermann, Shell Federal Credit Union, Texan Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, and The MINT National Bank
Silver Sponsors: City of Humble HKA Texas, Deerbrook Mall,Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, Sullivan’s Advanced Paint and Body
Bronze Sponsor: Washington National Insurance Company
City of Humble- Fire Department-
Firefighter/Paramedic Emile Haley
Emile Haley has been with Humble Fire Rescue for 2 years, and in that time has demonstrated outstanding work ethic and an unwavering positive attitude toward both fellow firefighters and the citizens of our community. A few months ago, Firefighter / Paramedic Haley was featured on a story by KRIV Fox 26, for going on his day off and treating Lakeland Elementary to a pizza party. He stated that he felt so blessed and touched by the students’ warm reception during an event earlier in the year, that he wanted to make them feel special too.
Emile exhibits all the department’s core values and gives a good name to firefighters everywhere. He is dedicated to our community and deserves this honor.
Humble ISD Police-
Senior Officer Jeffrey Vadzemnieks
Senior Officer Jeffrey Vadzemnieks began his career in law enforcement with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in 1991 as a Detention Officer. He then transitioned to Harris County Precinct 1 from 1993-1995 and returned to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in 1995. Senior Officer Vadzemnieks worked in various areas within HCSO until his retirement in December 2018. Currently, Sr. Officer Vadzemnieks holds a position with the Humble ISD Police Department as a Campus Officer, Field Training Officer and Instructor.
Sr. Officer Vadzemnieks has a positive impact on our students, by building relationships and trust. He shows the students and staff that he is always willing to help, guide and educate. He strives to be a resource for the students, campus staff and fellow officers.
Sr. Officer Vadzemnieks is a Field Training Officer within the Police Department. This position is an important responsibility within any police agency. An FTO is tasked with the responsibility to train new police officers fresh out of the police academy and those from other agencies. These impressionable police recruits begin their new careers and need a police veteran who can teach and become a mentor and lead by example. His ability to train our officers for a career in school-based law enforcement is an asset to our department and community.
In December 2020, Sr. Officer Vadzemnieks went above and beyond his regular course of duties by assisting a fellow officer in identifying a male that was found unresponsive outside one of our campuses after-hours. He promptly contacted school officials. Shortly after, the campus administration positively identified the male. Sr. Officer Jeffrey Vadzemnieks then contacted the family and informed them about their family member. Due to his quick response, this led to identifying the person and making sure that the family was contacted immediately.
Senior Officer Jeffrey Vadzemnieks is an exemplary police officer and has great work ethic, professionalism and compassion.
Humble Police Department-
Sergeant Travis Vaughn
On the night of April 30, 2020, Officer Vaughn was dispatched to a residence in an effort to assist Humble Rescue Unit 2 with a combative patient. Upon arrival, Vaughn found that a weapon had been drawn on medical staff.
Since he was training another officer, he entered the home first. Once inside a directive was given to the combative male to drop the weapon. However, the male charged towards Officer Vaughn and his probationary officer in an aggressive manner while still holding the deadly weapon. Vaughn attempted a less lethal approach and utilized his taser. Unfortunately, that proved ineffective as the aggressive male continued to approach with the weapon. Officer Vaughn began to retreat and used lethal force to protect his probationary police officer, medic units and the family which was still inside of the residence. The male was immediately detained, and Officer Vaughn assisted in rendering medical aid along with the medics.
Officer Vaughn executed life-saving efforts as he not only provided safety for himself but the emergency medical personnel on location and the spouse and child of the male suspect.
Montgomery County Constable
Sergeant Robert Buchanan
According to Lieutenant Jack Slack, Sgt. Buchanan has been a shining star for our agency in 2020. He is a fantastic employee, a huge asset to our agency and is so deserving of this award and recognition.
Sgt. Buchanan was asked to take on a newly formed DWI & Traffic Enforcement Division by Constable Rowdy Hayden. He was told he would be working nights, weekends and holidays with little ability to take off. He would also have several deputies under his supervision that needed to be working during these times and in dangerous conditions (roadside interviews, intoxicated, etc.) This job also included making cases for himself, not just supervising. Sgt. Buchanan’s response was, “I got it, no problem”. Sgt. Buchanan has done very well, with over 100 DWI arrests between himself and his team for 2020.
Many, many lives have been saved thanks to Sgt. Buchanan’s efforts and leadership under Constable Hayden.
Lonestar College Kingwood Police Department-
Sergeant Hue Billings
As we look back the year 2020 has given us plenty of events to remember.
On January 30, 2020 Sergeant H.T. Billings received a citation for “Teamwork Excellence”. LSC Kingwood Campus received a call from Dispatch regarding possible shots fired in parking lot A of the Kingwood campus. Sergeant H. T. Billings was one of the first campus officers to arrive and the first to respond to dispatch of the status, while contacting the outside Police and County agency arriving to assist with the threat.
On March 27, 2020 Sergeant H.T. Billings received a citation for “Leadership Excellence” for his hard work, dedication, flexibility, and compassion he demonstrated during the first few weeks of the pandemic period. He continues to go beyond expectations and exhibit exception leadership.
Sergeant H. T. Billings received two other citation, June 30, 2020 “Recognition – Supervisor” for how he conducts Roll Call and daily training. On January 4, 2021 he received a citation “Recognition – Peer” from one of his Officers for his consistent hard work and dedication toward his Officers.
Sergeant H. T. Billings has 35 years of Law Enforcement, 27 retired from Harris County and 8 year with Lone Star College.
Houston Police Department- Kingwood
Sergeant Robert Hunter
During the summer of 2020, the death of George Floyd sparked numerous protests in cities and towns throughout the nation. These protests placed law enforcement in many unique and challenging situations. On May 29, 2020, a protest in downtown Houston involving several thousand people quickly devolved into mayhem and civil unrest. Due to this incident, Sergeant Robert Hunter, assigned to the Kingwood Patrol Division, was activated as part of the Houston Police Department’s Special Response Group to respond to any further protests and to quell any future occurrences of civil unrest or disobedience.
Sergeant Hunter supervised a field force of approximately ten police officers every day for roughly two weeks. Despite the presence of substantial threats to his personal safety, Sergeant Hunter, along with the officers he supervised, displayed courage and determination while also taking extraordinary measures to engage citizens in both friendly and hostile environments with understanding and unwavering professionalism.
Through concerted efforts, teamwork, initiative, autonomy and deliberate actions, he along with numerous other officers effectively abated serious injuries, loss of life and possible disastrous destruction witnessed in neighboring cities and states during this time.
Sergeant Hunter further displayed his commitment to professionalism as he took the lead on a training initiative in the Kingwood Division. He regularly takes a vested interest in safety and best practices, and he bestows his knowledge on his officers during roll calls and in the field. During 2020, Sergeant Hunter led other members of the Kingwood Division to provide special training to all personnel in the division across all three shifts. This effort required countless hours of work outside of his regular working hours as he fine-tuned the trainers. Sergeant Hunter took pride in providing the best possible training to the officers who would be using the training every day, and the result reflects his commitment to excellence.
Sergeant Hunter’s collaborative efforts have been pivotal in maintaining, demonstrating and restoring the trust and legitimacy of the Houston Police Department to the community and the nation.
Atascocita Fire Department
Captain Paul Schoenemann
Throughout 2020 and the COVID 19 Pandemic, Paul has gone above and beyond to provide ideas and solutions to problems. He created a tracking list of all COVID positive patients to provide data to staff. He assisted in the rapid development of COVID protocols, PPE procedures, and response plans. All the while working in the trenches with the medics and firefighters responding to numerous COVID 19 calls, along with the other day to day rescues. On June 16, 2020, Paul received a LifeSaver Award. This award recognizes Paul for his efforts to save a person in cardiac arrest. This is Paul’s 4th LifeSaver award since he started with AFD in 2012.
Paul consistently goes above and beyond while on shift and for his employees. He has earned the respect of his staff and he is always helpful and supportive. Paul goes out of his way to communicate and support staff. He does quarterly reviews of his staff to maintain communication and expectations; when annual reviews are all that is required.
In addition to Paul’s duties as EMS Captain, he has taken on Emergency Management responsibilities and exceeded expectations. Paul had a key role in developing the I-A-P program and has managed the program through several storms and the COVID Pandemic. The pandemic caused several deployments in addition to 2020s very active Hurricane season. The department deployed teams to Houston, Lufkin, Livingston, Harlingen, Beaumont, and El Paso. Some deployments lasted for a month. Paul performed day to day management of the deployments in addition to regular duties. He managed employee needs, documentation, flights, supply shipments, and fleet issues.
2020 was a tough year, but Paul Schoenemann stood out and has accomplished significant achievements.
Splendora Police Department
Officer Henri Mestizo
Officer Mestizo came to the City of Splendora Police Department just a little over a year ago with three years prior experience.
Officer Mestizo has excelled in the agency leading in overall performance and taking on new roles. Officer Mestizo is a current member of the Strategic Response Team, Swift Water Rescue Team, and Highway Interdiction Team. He also recently obtained his Field Training Officer Certification.
Officer Mestizo has led the department in arrests with a total of 189 arrests in a single year. Out of the 189 arrest, 108 were felonies.
Officer Mestizo strives to make Splendora a safe place to live and work. Splendora Police Department is proud to have Officer Mestizo as part of the family and team.
Humble Police Department-
Officers Bissett & Olvera
On the afternoon of March 8, 2020, Humble Police responded to a call regarding aggravated assault. Officer Bissett and Officer Olvera arrived and encountered the armed, male suspect from a safe distance within a parking lot. The male refused to obey commands given by both officers. The male, with his gun still drawn, gave chase.
The suspect continued running toward another area congested with heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic putting many citizens and officers in danger. When the male suspect darted behind an adjacent business, a civilian observed the officers pursuing the suspect and attempted to assist them by tackling him to the ground. A struggle ensued between the suspect and the civilian when the suspect fired his weapon twice, shooting the civilian in the chest, fatally wounding him.
Officers Bissett and Olvera heard the gun shots and while approaching, observed the suspect push the civilian and get up from the ground while still holding the handgun. Fearing for the safety of themselves and others, Officers Bissett and Olvera discharged their duty weapons to stop the suspect from continuing his rampage. Both officers acted quickly and began to render medical aid.
Ultimately, Officer Bissett and Olvera showed great restraint and poise under pressure while attempting to de-escalate a very volatile situation with little regard for their own safety. Both should be commended for the courage and professionalism shown during a very difficult and stressful situation while trying to protect the citizens of Humble.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office-
Lieutenant William L. Gray
Lieutenant William “Bill” Gray has been a dedicated public servant with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for more than 35 years. Most of this time has been in direct service to the citizens of Harris County as patrolman and then as a patrol supervisor. Bill is currently assigned as the Administrative/Day Shift Lieutenant for District 2 Patrol. This area encompasses 190 square miles of North East Harris County with a population over 400,000. He is the most senior lieutenant in Patrol, and he has proven himself as a servant leader with invaluable experience and excellent decision-making skills. He ensures his employees have everything they need in terms of equipment, supplies, training and emotional support. His vast experience and professionalism brings a sense of calm and confidence to deputies on high stress emergency calls. They have faith that he will ensure everything will be done appropriately and professionally.
In addition to overseeing patrol activities, Bill coordinates training, video reviews, station inspections and many other administrative tasks designed to ensure we are providing professional public service to the citizens and visitors of Harris County. Bill oversees all District 2 contracts, the Crime Reduction Unit and the District Traffic Enforcement Unit. He ensures compliance with policy and procedures with progressive corrective action and conversely, he ensures deputies receive recognition whenever warranted. Bill is respected and well-liked by his subordinates, peers and superiors. He holds a T-COLE Master Peace Officer License, T-COLE Instructor’s License and T-COLE Firearms Instructor’s License. His professional conduct and distinguished service bring great credit to himself, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Harris County.
Harris County Constable Precinct 4
Deputy Kevin Tran
Deputy Kevin Tran was hired by the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office in May 2019 and assigned to the east district patrol division.
As a deputy with Constable Mark Herman’s Office, Deputy Tran has taken advantage of every opportunity to increase his knowledge and skills and is dedicated to removing criminals from the streets of Harris County. He eagerly volunteers to help with special task force and does not hesitate to quickly respond to dispatched calls for service. In 2020, while on patrol, Deputy Tran responded to over 850 calls for service, wrote more than 800 citations, and made 39 felony and 41 misdemeanor arrests. He also filed 41 criminal charges and has cleared 46 felony and misdemeanor warrants.
According to Captain Medina, Deputy Tran is a shining example of a modern-day law enforcement officer and strives every day to incorporate the department’s core values of Honor, Integrity, Compassion and Respect in his tour of duty. Deputy Tran has proven to be an asset to the department and community and is commended for a job well done.
Houston Fire Department- Kingwood
Firefighter Jerry Pacheco
Firefighter Jerry Pacheco was well respected by all that knew him in the community. He was described as having a smile that would light up a room. Pacheco was a 17-year veteran of the Houston Fire Department who died in the line of duty on Monday, August 3, 2020 from COVID-19.
Houston Fire Department- Kingwood
Captain Leroy Lucio
Captain Leroy Lucio touched the lives of many through his work in the community. He was described as such a kind person and is deeply missed by all who knew him. Lucio was a 29 year Houston Fire Department veteran who died in the line of duty on Monday, July 20, 2020 from COVID-19.