an individual pins a medal on officer david massons uniform
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Commendable Acts of Service

Alisia Ruble, Arvin Valmores

The CSU honors members of university police departments for lifesaving heroism and quick action.

an individual pins a medal on officer david massons uniform

​CSU Sa​n Marcos Officer David Masson received the Lifesaving Medal in a campus ceremony April 17, 2024. (Photo courtesy CSU San Marcos)


​​California State University peace officers ensure the safety and security of nearly 450,000 students and more than 63,000 employees, as well as thousands of visitors and members of the surrounding communities daily. In addition to being sworn and certified by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), CSU police officers are uniquely trained to serve the myriad groups that make up a diverse university community.

Each year, the CSU Chancellor's Office solicits candidates to receive systemwide recognition for exceptional service in the line of duty. This year's 2024 CSU Police Commendations recipients include two officers who rescued a teenaged girl from a bridge, an officer who saved a woman from a fire and two individuals who provided lifesaving medical treatment to an elderly person.

“The integrity demonstrated by the CSU's police officers while performing their day-to-day duties, their selfless determination to run toward danger when necessary and their ongoing commitment to serve the greater good inspire us all," Chancellor Mildred García wrote in a letter to campus presidents. “We can never thank them enough for all they do—and all that they stand prepared to do—for the students, faculty, staff and the entire California State University community."

Meet these local heroes.

Saving Lives in Sacramento

Sacramento ​State Police Sergeant Emily Kelly and Officer Keith Driffin will receive the Lifesaving​ Medal in a campus ceremony this summer for their efforts that prevented a 13-year-old girl from jumping off the H Street/Tara O'Sullivan Bridge near the campus.

Kelly and Driffin responded to a call from the Sacramento Fire Department to perform a welfare check on the young girl and were advised she had run toward the bridge. They found the young woman standing on the outside ledge of the bridge and when they approached her, she threatened to jump.

The officers were joined by Sacramento State counselor Joaquin Jordan, and together they established a dialogue with the girl as they slowly approached her. Risking their own personal safety, the trio climbed onto the bridge railing and lifted the young woman back over the railing. She received necessary medical and psychological help.

Another member of the Sacramento State Police Department, Corporal Nathan Rice, will receive a Medal of Valor for saving a woman from a fire in a field near the campus's University Arboretum.

Upon responding to reports of the fire, Rice noticed an unresponsive woman lying in the field in the path of the flames. Rice scaled a fence to reach the woman and, when he reached her, realized she had burns covering her entire body. As flames began to engulf the area, Rice pulled her to safety and called for medical aid.

Rice assisted fire personnel with removing her from the area and into an ambulance, and she was taken to a local hospital where she received medical treatment. The woman survived the fire thanks to Rice's quick actions and bravery in the face of danger.

“It is an honor and privilege to recognize Sergeant Kelly, Officer Driffin and Corporal Rice for their extraordinary courage and selfless actions," says Sacramento State Chief of Police Chet Madison Jr. “Each of them carried out an unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of our campus community. Their courageous efforts serve as an inspiration to us all."

San Marcos UPD Saves the Day

Public safety officers have a large presence at campus events, like commencement ceremonies, to ensure community members and visitors remain safe in the event of an emergency.

During a CSU San Marcos commencement ceremony May 19, 2023, CSUSM Police Officer David Masson and CSUSM Emergency Manager Jennifer Ralph noticed an elderly woman in medical distress and gasping for breath. They immediately began assessing the woman and provided CPR until medics arrived.

According to the medics, the woman would not have survived if on-scene personnel had not started CPR. For their quick action, Masson received the Lifesaving Medal and Ralph received the Community Hero Award.

“The lifesaving actions taken by Officer Masson and Emergency Manager Ralph illustrate the ever-present commitment to our community, profession and each other shared by all members of the CSU San Marcos Police Department," says Jesus Flores, CSUSM Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Chief of Police.

Masson and Ralph were both honored during a ceremony at CSUSM April 17, 2024.

Meet members of CSU police departments who received commendations in 2022 and 2023, and learn more about Systemwide Campus Safety & Security.