Santa Paula Times

SPPD Explorer Bermudez’ meritorious action lauded with Commendation

January 05, 2011
Santa Paula Police Department

Cindy Bermudez, a 16-year-old Santa Paula Police Explorer, started the New Year with a prestigious honor: a SPPD Commendation for her meritorious action during a November incident, followed less then two weeks with more excellent police work. Bermudez was presented with the special Police Commendation at the December 20 City Council meeting.

The Explorers program is geared to youth 14 to 21 years old who have an interest in law enforcement, community service and honing their leadership skills.

Police Chief Steve MacKinnon told the council that SPPD Explorer Post #2352 is “very active... we usually have 20 members,” a number that varies as members graduate from high school, go on to college, enter the military or seek law enforcement careers. “It’s a very, very successful program, and I want to pass on the laudable feat of one of your Explorers” and commend the actions of an Explorer who assisted officers in solving a crime.

MacKinnon noted that for the past several years Explorers have become “an integral part of our organization... our citizens see these young men and women throughout our community as they assist at community events,” perform a number of important tasks within the police facility, and “support our officers on the street.” And when it comes to the latter, “Nowhere,” said MacKinnon, “is this better illustrated than with Police Explorer Cindy Bermudez’s actions on November 7, 2010.”

That evening Bermudez was on a ride-along with Officer Randy Haumann when at about 12:54 a.m. he conducted a traffic stop in the area of Richmond Road and 13th Street. The driver attempted to flee, causing Haumann to engage in “a physical altercation in the middle of the street.” Haumann had attempted to call Dispatch via his portable radio regarding the stop and confrontation, but the only traffic that could be heard was “I need an additional unit” before communication was lost.

After several attempts by the dispatcher to contact the officer, MacKinnon said Bermudez “broadcast on the radio that Officer Haumann had a subject at gunpoint and provided the location of Richmond at 13th.... Officers arrived shortly thereafter” to find Haumann lying on the ground “on top of one suspect while pointing his gun at another suspect. Those officers assisted in taking both suspects into custody,” while Bermudez - per her training - had taken cover behind the police vehicle.

The Police Commendation allows the Chief of Police to commend the actions of a person whose assistance has aided the police in the prevention of a crime, the apprehension of a criminal, or in the performance of a valuable service to the department.

MacKinnon said, “Because of Explorer Bermudez’s actions that evening, two persons were taken into custody. More importantly, she guaranteed that one of our officer’s safety was secure.... Without her presence that evening, the results could have been tragic. For her actions of that we evening we commend Police Explorer Cindy Bermudez” as, noted MacKinnon, “her conduct reflects well not only on herself, but upon the entire Police Explorer program.”

MacKinnon presented Bermudez with a Commendation Bar to wear on her uniform, noting, “This is the first one we’re issuing for this kind of meritorious action.”

But there’s more: “In addition to this,” MacKinnon said he had recently learned Bermudez had been on a ride-a-long with Officer David Keathley on November 19 when there was a report of an attempted carjacking in the area of North 13th Street.

While looking for the suspects, Bermudez spotted them and as officers searched the location she observed one subject was hiding behind a vehicle. She alerted the officers to his location, and after a foot pursuit the first suspect was arrested and later the second suspect was taken into custody.

MacKinnon said Bermudez is a “role model” in the program that “all find fun and challenging... and Cindy has a job with our department whenever she leaves the Explorers and wants to move up” to a career as a sworn full-time SPPD Officer.

Bermudez told the council “It’s been a very long two years” as an Explorer. “I’ve learned a lot, been in a lot of situations... it’s been a learning experience for me.”

Mayor Fred Robinson thanked Bermudez for her “exemplary service” to the community.