Police Ceremony Honors Bravery, New Hires

Police Chief Joe Farrow awards medal to police officer
Police Chief Joe Farrow presents the UC Police Department Lifesaving Medal to Officer Mihoko Kubo. Officer Jessie Alli, to her right, also received the award. (Anjie Cook/UC Davis)

The UC Davis Police Department this month held its first full-scale promotion and awards ceremony since the start of the pandemic, honoring those who have saved lives, those who are new to the department and more.

During a July 13 ceremony that included a moment of silence for the victims of a series of off-campus stabbings in April and May, Chancellor Gary S. May said he “couldn’t be more proud” of the people who helped protect the community during that crisis by increasing patrols, Safe Rides hours and more.

“You don’t always get the appreciation and recognition you deserve for keeping our campus community safe,” he said. “It’s nice to be part of an event that honors our law enforcement officers and partners.”

May highlighted ways the department has served as a model to others in the UC system, like its Police Accountability Board — the first on a university campus in California — and recent accreditation from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. 

In turn, Police Chief Joe Farrow thanked Chancellor May for his leadership by presenting him with a framed badge to make him an honorary member of the department.

“The entire UC Davis Police Department is grateful for your service and leadership,” Farrow told May.

Medal of merit to Farrow

Police Chief Joe Farrow poses for photo with several other people
Police Chief Joe Farrow, center, receives the UC Medal of Merit, with, from left: UC Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Domby, UC Berkeley Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, UCLA Interim Police Chief John Thomas, UC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rachael Nava, UC Riverside Police Chief Jeff Talbott; UC Director of Community Safety Jody Stiger. (Anjie Cook/UC Davis)

Chief Joe Farrow also received the University of California Medal of Merit, an award presented by several other UC police chiefs. In a letter read aloud by Rachael Nava, the UC’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, UC President Michael V. Drake called Farrow “most deserving of this honor.”

“Your collaborative leadership has been critical in helping the university navigate an uncertain and unprecedented time,” Drake wrote. “In particular, I appreciate your dedicated work through the summer of 2020 during calls for police reform and an overhaul to the system, your coordination across the system as we drafted the University of California's Community Safety Plan, and your productive support of labor negotiations with [the Federated University Police Officers Association].”

Drake said Farrow has “shown a commendable willingness to lean into difficult conversations,” like his participation in the UC Campus Safety Symposium in 2021.

Farrow was humble in accepting the award: When the crowd gave him a standing ovation, he mouthed “no” and motioned for everyone to sit.

Farrow was also honored earlier in the event with the Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional University Leadership, presented by May and Clare Shinnerl, vice chancellor of Finance, Operations and Administration.

Medals for lifesaving, courage

Three officers were honored with systemwide awards for saving lives:

Officers Mihoko Kubo and Jessie Alli were the first people on the scene last summer when a student was found suffering from a suspected drug overdose. They administered a dose of Narcan to the student, who was not breathing and had turned pale. The officers performed CPR until paramedics arrived. The student survived the incident and is alive today.

Core Officer Ricky Lee defused dangerous situations twice in the same month, January 2022: In one case, he was able to convince a student who was standing at the edge of a six-story parking structure to voluntarily come down. A few weeks later, while working at UC Davis Health, he was able to calm a woman who was holding a knife to her own throat in the hospital’s emergency room. She put the knife down voluntarily.

Officers Edgardo Fermin Grande and David Uribe received the systemwide Medal of Courage for their work responding to a February vehicle collision in the city of Davis. When the car caught fire, the two worked to free the driver, who was trapped inside. They were successful in freeing the driver, and Grande suffered burns to his hands and arms in the process. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Department awards

The department also presented the following awards:

  • David Barillas, Aggie Host of the Year
  • Caleb Henke, Protective Services Officer of the Year, Health Campus
  • Jaleah Calvillo, Protective Services Officer of the Year, Primate Center
  • Jennifer Chow, Community Member of the Year
  • Lindsey Shreves, Dispatcher of the Year
  • Myra Abshire, Professional Employee of the Year
  • Joseph Connors, Officer of the Year
  • Kate Folker, Federated University Police Officers Association Distinguished Service Award

But arguably the loudest applause of the event came as Farrow and Lt. Joanne Zekany presented a medal (and a treat) to Charlie, who has served with the department since 2015 as an explosives-detection and outreach dog. As Charlie has aged, he has focused solely on outreach and will likely retire soon, said handler and core officer Tabbasum “Tabby” Malik ’19.

Joe Farrow shakes Charlie's paw
Charlie “shakes” to accept his medal at the awards ceremony earlier this month. (Anjie Cook/UC Davis)

New hires, promotions

Family members pinned badges on three new sergeants and three new patrol officers at the event. A fourth officer introduced at the event starts next month.

  • Sgt. Pete Diaz
  • Sgt. Andrew Marshall
  • Sgt. Vincent Sapien
  • Officer Delia Cardenas
  • Officer Saul Guerrero Montoya ’21
  • Officer Michael Mattson
  • Christopher Lorenz ’10, who will start work as an officer next month

But not all of the department’s new hires will wear traditional police uniforms or carry weapons.

Samara Palominos
Samara Palominos ’21

“We’re evolving the perceptions of police,” said Samara Palominos ’21, a campus safety specialist whose uniform will consist of a grey polo shirt emblazoned with “campus safety” in gold letters. She and others in the role will take reports, direct traffic and more. “Hopefully we’ll gain more trust for officers.”

The campus safety specialists are part of a tiered response system, where the department only sends a traditional, armed police officer if the situation warrants it. The other types of staff members are people who also might not have otherwise considered a career in law enforcement.

“Growing up, I wanted to be a teacher and help my community,” said Kevin Fabian ’22, another campus safety specialist introduced at the ceremony. “This is another way I can help my community.”

Fabian said Spanish was his first language, and he hopes to be able to connect with students with similar backgrounds.

“It helps to have someone who looks like me and who talks like me,” he said, adding that being a recent graduate means he understands pressures students might be facing, like finals or a difficult class.

Media Resources

Cody Kitaura is the editor of Dateline UC Davis. He can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.

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