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Police win city's affection

Individual awards are handed out at the annual appreciation event, but the love in the room is directed toward all.

March 28, 2014|By Bradley Zint
  • Newport Beach police Sgt. Rachel Johnson, center, and Officer Robert Bennett, right, receive lifesaving awards from Police Chief Jay Johnson, left, during the 43rd annual Police Appreciation Breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach hotel Friday.
Newport Beach police Sgt. Rachel Johnson, center, and… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

The pride that Newport Beach feels for its police was ever-present during an awards ceremony Friday morning, right down to the event's opening soundtrack: the trumpet-heavy fanfare used in the 1988 Olympics.

Composer John Williams' "Olympic Spirit" heralded the start of the 43rd annual Police Appreciation Breakfast within a packed ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach hotel. The Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce's Commodores Club organized the event.

Guest speaker Eileen Frere, Orange County bureau chief for ABC7 Eyewitness News, presented details about each award recipient as Police Chief Jay Johnson and Mayor Rush Hill gave out the honors and posed for photos.

Officer Kyle Markwald received the Officer of the Year award. A member of the Newport police force for two years, Markwald was praised for his hard work and consummate professionalism and for being a "humble team player" with natural leadership abilities.

Frere noted that Markwald serves on the SWAT team and gang suppression unit and made 138 arrests in 2013, contributing to Newport's crime reduction.

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Other award recipients include Officer Joseph DeJulio, who last year provided CPR to a man before paramedics arrived.

Sgt. Lloyd Whisenant, a 19-year veteran who is retiring this summer, was honored as Supervisor of the Year.

Johnson also used the event to provide several 2013 department statistics, among them: 3,190 arrests were made; 5,127 calls were handled by animal control officers; 45,174 citations were handed out; 92,431 field incidents were dealt with; and 6,694 hours were donated by volunteer police.

He also gave the department's routine public service announcement: Lock your doors, and don't keep valuables in plain sight.

That morning in the Hyatt's parking lot, Johnson noted, his staff identified several easy-to-steal items, including 15 shopping bags, 14 purses, six GPS devices, six dry-cleaned suits, three smartphones, one laptop, one wallet and one checkbook.

Some of the cars were unlocked as well.

"There's bait that's out there," Johnson said.

The audience also viewed videos of staged events showing what Newport officers deal with on the streets. On-screen text explained what officers look for when examining suspects linked to crimes like burglaries — nervous movements, no identification and possession of bolt cutters.

Such incidents happen at night, the video notes, when officers are working while most of Newport is asleep.

"As you can see, this is not your regular 9-to-5 job," Johnson says to the camera.

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