The Colusa Rotary Club named six officers as Peace Officers of the Year for 2017 on Tuesday, one each for the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office, the Colusa Police Department, the Williams Police Department, the Colusa County Probation Department, the California Highway Patrol, and the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office.
The Annual Police Officer of the Year Award was established to recognize the challenges police officers face and to say a public “thank you” for a job well done.
Key qualities for the award include courtesy, kindness, understanding, compassion, courage, and devotion to their duty. Officers are also recognized for their involvement in a particular act, a series of acts, or their continued demonstration of ongoing professionalism within their department.
The officers recognized this year were Deputy Probation Officer Kimberly Oliva, District Attorney Investigator Chris Liston, Colusa County Sheriff’s Correctional Officer Naborina Medina, Colusa Police Officer Luis Ruiz, California Highway Patrol Officer Sterling (Parker) Barrow, and Williams Police Officer Michael Miller.
In addition to the awards from the Colusa Rotary Club, each of the law enforcement officials were presented with commissioned joint resolutions of the California State Senate and the California State Assembly. Assemblymember James Gallagher and Senator Jim Nielsen were on hand to present the resolutions in person. The two men referenced the shooting in Tehama County that occurred earlier in the morning as they thanked honorees for their service.
“I think it really hits home ever more today, as we got news this morning of another mass shooting up in Rancho Tehama in Tehama County,” Gallagher said. “You know, once again, brave Sheriff’s Deputies showed up to do their job and put themselves in harm’s way to stop this guy… From the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate what you do. We always like to participate in this event because of that, and this is just the least we can do to say thank you.”
County Probation Department
Deputy Probation Officer II
Oliva, raised in the Yuba -Sutter area, began her law enforcement career as a Probation Assistant with the Colusa County Probation Department on June 1, 2012.
Oliva was tasked with learning the department’s case management system, assisting front office staff, and assisting probation officers as directed.
Oliva was promoted to the position of Deputy Probation Officer I in 2013, when she was assigned to the Proposition 36 and Diversion drug caseloads. Assigned to implement Evidenced Based Programming in the department, she was instrumental in the planning and execution of the county’s Probation Day Reporting Center, and has been a driving force in the expansion of numerous programs at the Day Reporting Center.
Oliva was promoted to Deputy Probation Officer II on Oct. 1, 2017, based on her outstanding work performance. Most recently, Oliva was assigned to audit the Batterers’ Program within the county, and works with facilitators that apply to work in Colusa County, and has also been assigned the Mental Health and sex offender caseloads.
“Deputy Probation Officer II Kimberly Oliva is more than deserving of special recognition as Peace Officer of the Year for her dedication and professionalism over the span of her five-year career with the Colusa County Probation Department,” Supervising Deputy Probation Officer Kristen Simmons said in her nomination letter. “Each of (her) caseloads requires an officer not only have patience (and to) be resilient and empathetic, but (also) to be resourceful and organized, as well as holding clients accountable for their actions. Officer Oliva wears many hats and does a great job in adapting to any situation presented to her. The clients respect her for her honesty and her ability to be firm, fair and consistent while continuing to motivate them to be better people.”
County Sheriff’s Office
Medina was born in Colusa and attended local schools before joining the Sheriff’s Office in 1996. She is curretly a jail training officer and purchasing officer for the department.
Sheriff Joe Garofalo said that Medina is worthy of recognition for her willingness to go far beyond her duties to help others.
“Her ability to remain calm, composed, and professional when dealing with extremely difficult inmates and challenging situations is unsurpassed,” Garofalo said in his nomination letter. “It would be easy for someone with 21 years of service in the correctional services environment to be intolerant. However, Officer Media is well known and distinguished for her integrity, compassion, and hard work without any complaints. Her focus on quality service and dedication to those she serves exemplify what the public expects in a Colusa County law enforcement officer.”
Medina has received numerous letters of appreciation and thanks from her supervisors, as well as outside agencies. A recent letter described her as an “amazing and positive representative of the agency.”
“She has an outstanding work ethic and is dedicated to bringing a high level of professionalism to the Sheriff’s Office and community,” Garofalo wrote. “Her leadership is respected by allied agencies as well as her coworkers and supervisors.”
Colusa City Police Department
Ruiz was born in Mexico and his family moved to Arbuckle shortly after. He attended local schools and eventually graduated from Pierce High School in 2003. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served his country for more than eight years as an Aviation Equipment Training Non-Commissioned Officer. During his time in the military, Ruiz did three overseas tours: two in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2012, and one in Japan in 2008.
Ruiz was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps and returned to Arbuckle, where he used his G.I. Bill to further his interest in law enforcement. Ruiz attended the Butte College Law Enforcement Academy in Oroville, CA, grauating in December 2015. While at the academy, Ruiz was hired as a police officer trainee for the Colusa Police Department.
“As a police officer, Luis has performed his duties in a competent and efficient manner,” wrote Colusa Police Chief Josh Fitch. “Once off field training, Luis took it upon himself to be one of the department’s top producers in arrests and citations. Luis has become a role model for his coworkers to follow, especially in the categories of professionalism and performance.”
In the past year, Ruiz became a state-certified Spanish translator for the Colusa Police Department. He also became a department Field Training Officer, despite his being a police officer for just two years.
“This assignment is usually earmarked for officers with three or more years on the job,” Fitch said. “This is a prime example of his drive to excel in the law enforcement career field.”
Fitch credited Ruiz for his actions during a recent incident, when he foiled an in-progress armed robbery in the street, when a male suspect was pointing a loaded firearm at a victim.
“Ruiz drove up on the robbery, quickly deescalated the incident, and took the suspect into custody without incident,” Fitch said.
Away from work, Ruiz is an active member of his community and a dedicated father.
California Highway Patrol – Williams Area
Sterling (Parker) Barrow
Parker has served the California Highway Patrol Department for seven years, and has worked in the East Los Angeles and Williams commands. CHP Commander Eric Walker said that in each command, Barrow has consistently performed his duties in a very professional manner, and that he “epitomizes the very essence of dedication, character, professionalism, and integreity the department strives to find in each officer it employs.”
Barrow was born and raised in Yuba City. Prior to his employment with the department, Barrow earned an associate’s degree, and is currently working on a psychology degree through Sacramento State University. Outside of the department, Barrow is a dedicated father and husband, is involved with his local church, and spends his personal time mentoring youth in the Scouts program.
Walker added that Barrow is admired by peers and supervisors alike for his work ethic, and that the department routinely relies on his bilingual skills in assisting in translating for Spanish speakers.
“Officer Barrow takes a great deal of pride in his work, as shown through his outstanding work ethic and commitment to the department,” Walker said. “(He), at least in my opinion, is very deserving of this award.”
Williams City Police Department
Christopher Michael Miller
Miller was born in Castrol Valley, California, and was raised in Paradise. He graduated from Paradise High School in 1997. He graduated from the Butte College Police Academy in 2002, and began his 13-year career in law enforcement at the Marysville Police Department in 2004.
Miller held various positions there, including patrol officer, K-9 handler, detective, sergeant, reserve officer coordinator, field training officer, and honor guard member. He has also worked at the Yuba College Police Academy as a recruit training officer. He joined the Williams Police Department in February 2016. Since then, he has worked as a patrol officer, field training officer, and – most recently – as the department’s detective.
“We were immediately impressed with his professionalism, investigative knowledge, and willingness to help others without hesitation,” said Williams Police Chief Ed Anderson. “His fellow officers and supervisors often comment on Chris’ great teamwork, his ability to motivate others, and the positive image he displays to our community. He is very patient and always takes time to talk to the public, answer questions, and assist them in any way possible. Chris has an especially good rapport with children and enjoys interacting with them. Chris always goes above and beyond what is expected of him.”
Anderson specifically applauded Miller’s work during the flooding in Maxwell last winter, when he and a fellow officer rescued a couple and their pets who were trapped in a vehicle in the floodwater.
“Due to their quick and selfless actions, the outcome was a positive one,” Anderson said.
County District Attorney’s Office
Liston is a law enforcement veteran with more than eight years of service, seven of those years in service to the citizens of Colusa County. Most recently, Liston served in a dual-role capacity working part time as a Colusa County Task Force Agent, in addition to his District Attorney Investigator duties.
“In the last year, Investigator Liston initiated and investigated several large scale cases,” Dave Salm, chief investigator for the District Attorney’s Office said in his nomination letter. “Most recently, he was the lead case agent in an investigation revolving around human trafficking. The investigation culminated in service of several search warrants and the arrest of several offenders.”
Salm added that Liston has also become a valuable asset to all Colusa County law enforcement agencies because of his ability to author search warrants, investigative experience, and top-quality training.
“In June of this year, he was part of a team that continuously and tirelessly followed leads in a murder investigation that resulted in the arrest of the suspect, 31 hours after the victim’s body was discovered,” Salm said.
Liston recently earned his Firearms Instructor certificate, the ICI Homicide Investigation certificate, and the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Certificate. In addition to his ongoing law enforcement training, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Management. He is a member in good standing of the California Narcotic Officer’s Association as well as the California District Attorney Investigator’s Association.
Investigator Liston was the Chairperson in this year’s Deputy Sheriffs Association (DSA) charity golf tournament where a total of $4600.00 was raised for the DSA’s scholarship fund.■