For the first time in the history of the two agencies, the Castle Rock Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office came together for a joint awards ceremony, fittingly on National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
On an evening that saw more than 40 officers recognized and 20 area high school students awarded scholarships, there were stories filled with sacrifice and service from beginning to end.
Whether it was CRPD Officer Ben Leach, who saved two lives over the course of the year, or Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Aguilar who, while off-duty, heard the cries for help from a man who had been lying on the floor of his apartment for three days, and got him the necessary help, the overriding theme was filled with dedication.
“Every day, what you say, what you do has the ability to leave an impact on someone’s life forever,” said Douglas County Sheriff David A. Weaver.
On a night when departments across the country were remembering those officers who sacrificed their lives to protect the citizens they serve, Castle Rock Police Chief Jack Cauley took a moment to recognize the 120 American law enforcement officers who lost their lives while on duty in 2012, including six in Colorado. Since 1869, 280 Colorado law enforcement officers died while doing their job, he said.
“We are here tonight to honor those who came before us and gave the ultimate sacrifice as they protect us,” Cauley said. “We are also recognizing officers who are risking their lives day in and day out, those that are going into danger, while others are running out.”
No incident garnered more attention at the May 15 ceremony than a late-night shooting incident on July 4, 2012, in Castle Rock, and both departments recognized numerous officers who arrived on scene in search of an armed suspect who fired at members from the Douglas County Regional SWAT team as well as Castle Rock police officers.
In what was described by Castle Rock Police Cmdr. John Anderson as a “very complex, multi-jurisdictional incident,” and by Douglas County Undersheriff Tony Spurlock as “an example of bravery at its highest,” 32 officers were honored for their part in the evening, including 13 who received the notable Medal of Valor from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and five, the Medal of Valor from the CRPD.
Other awards of note included the Deputy Ron King Memorial Law Enforcement Award that went to Douglas County Sheriff’s Detective Shawn Cronce, for her work in investigating Internet crimes against children; the DCSO Purple Heart Award, Deputy Wes Clements; DCSO Life-Saving Award, Deputy Robert Simonich; the CRPD Life-Saving Award, Officers David Cornell and Lee Gizzi; and the DCSO Sheriff’s Cross Award, Sgt. Chris Washburn.