Thursday, March 31 marked the 49th Annual Police Appreciation Breakfast, where the Commodore’s Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce honored the Newport Beach Police Department for remarkable efforts on behalf of our city over the last year.
The sold-out event held at the Hyatt Regency John Wayne Airport demonstrated how appreciated the efforts of the Police Department are by the city’s businesses and residents. The men and women of the Police Department serve as more than just officers of a law enforcement agency. They are ambassadors to our residents and the multitudes of visitors to our city each year.
After two years of challenging circumstances, cancelled events, and online ceremonies, the excitement at the live event was palatable and felt like a big step on the road back to normalcy.
The morning started with a coffee reception hosted by local hot spot Dory Deli and owner-restaurateur Maro Marovic. Over 500 community leaders and police personnel and their families had the opportunity to mingle as well as learn about Canine Unit police service dog Goose and his human partner, Officer Joe De Julio, the city’s equine Mounted Unit, and several vintage police vehicles on display.
The presentation began with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem sung by one of the Police Department’s own, Dispatcher Jessica Roberts.
Chamber CEO Steve Rosansky led the event by thanking local Premier Sponsors Hoag Hospital, Newport Beach & Company, Julie Laughton Custom Homes, and Orange County’s 5th District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, with special recognition to Pat and Jolynn Mahoney of West Coast Arborists for providing the décor for the event.
Police Chief Jon Lewis, under whose leadership the Police Department has achieved historically low crime rates, introduced Master of Ceremonies, Keith Morrison.
Morrison, award-winning correspondent for “Dateline NBC,” is a local celebrity having interviewed everyone from presidents and prime ministers to criminals, teachers, artists, and actors. Morrison has covered world-wide stories including the Orlando shooting, the Manson murders, the Oscar Pistorius trial, 9/11, Columbine, the peace process in the Middle East, wars fought by child soldiers in Africa, the struggle to “Free Willy,” and the battle waged over the fate of the little Cuban boy who once dominated headlines, Elian Gonzalez.
Morrison started with the Lifesaving Awards which included:
- Kyle Cameron, Adam Daymude, and Tyler Machado – quick assessment and the teamwork to save a man from a lethal cardiac event.
- Timothy Langham, Alexander Shenasi, and Michael Striek – rendering calm and professional lifesaving assistance with a man’s loved ones watching.
- Benjamin Arnett and Kyle Cameron – heroically removing an unconscious man from a burning car and providing lifesaving efforts to prevent his overdose.
- Austin Laverty and Brian Park – rendering lifesaving assistance during a mental health call for an attempted suicide.
- Tyler Eisenhauer, Isaac Furnari, and Steven Oberon – saving the life of a fellow Newport Beach Police Department employee suffering a heart attack while on duty.
Merit Awards were given for service “above and beyond” an employee’s normal job responsibilities. Those awards went to:
- Kyle Markwald – interrupting the illegal sale of a loaded firearm in the vicinity of a school, hours before students returned, leading to the arrest of a dangerous criminal and preventing future criminal activity.
- Christine Maroney – an experienced crisis negotiator, de-escalating two separate potential suicide incidents, one at Via Lido Bridge and another at the Goldenrod footbridge.
A highlight of the morning was the Merit Award given to Court Depweg, Michael Dugan, Michael Fletcher, and Bryan McMahon for their determination, perseverance, and tireless pursuit of justice to solve a 40-year-old cold case and bring closure to a grieving family.
In November of 1980, 42-year-old Judy Nesbit was tragically killed while showing her family’s boat to an unknown male attacker. The killer was never apprehended, and the case went cold for nearly forty years. Generations of Newport Beach Police Detectives continued to work on the investigation.
In September 2018, Depweg identified hairs left at the original crime scene and, through the cutting-edge DNA work, the first of its kind in the United States used to identify a murderer in a criminal investigation, a profile was extracted from the hairs.
Armed with the genetic DNA file, Depweg, along with Dugan and McMahon, identified a person of interest, Kenneth Elwin Marks, who passed away in 1999. Marks’ body was exhumed and, through DNA testing of the remains, Marks was identified as Judy Nesbitt’s murderer. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office ruled that if Marks were alive today, he would be formally charged with first-degree murder with special circumstances.
More awards were given to “Of The Year” recipients including Volunteer, Civilian, Sworn Supervisor, Civilian Supervisor, and Officer.
- Volunteer of the Year – Volunteer In Policing’s Laird Hayes committed 152 hours of time assisting the Police Department including vital service during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, acting as one of a handful of volunteers assisting county staff at vaccination sites at SOCA University and the Orange County Fair Grounds. Laird was appreciative of his wife, Maggie, and her decision to also volunteer for the Police Department so “They could go on patrol together. She navigates and I drive; we have not gotten lost yet” bragged Hayes.
- Civilian Employee of the Year – Rangemaster Vincent Kyzer oversees the Police Department’s indoor shooting range and the armory of firearms, tasers, and ammunition. Vince sees it as his duty to provide training that will save lives. He created new and innovative ways to train personnel on how to survive and protect public safety during life-or-death scenarios. His level of care for the safety of our officers, and the community they serve, stands far above the baseline standard.
- Civilian Supervisor the Year – Senior Dispatcher Joseph Horton has been with the Police Department for 28 years and for the past 16 years served as a shift supervisor in the Dispatch Unit leading his team with a reliable work ethic and passion.
- Sworn Supervisor of the Year – Sergeant Brandon Rodriguez supervises the Property Crimes Unit for the east side of the city. His leadership is recognized as a blueprint for how law enforcement should protect life and property and he is instrumental in achieving much of the city’s 10% property crime reduction in 2021.
- Officer of the Year – Homeless Liaison Officer Cynthia Carter made great strides towards finding long-term housing solutions for the city’s homeless population, coordinating her efforts with residents, businesses, and service agencies to respond to all needs at the utmost level.
At the Awards Ceremony, the Police Department also premiered a video entitled “Our Shift Never Ends”. The video can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJlsLZVP95o.
Bravo to all the awarded officers as well as the rest of the fine Newport Beach Police Department for the very high level of service and dedication they provide every day to the residents and businesses of and visitors to the City of Newport Beach.