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CSU Police Officers Honored for Acts of Heroism

Alisia Ruble


A close up of a C S U police officers patch

This fall, the California State University honors several University Police Department (UPD) officers with its 2022 Police Commendations for bravely and heroically going above and beyond their normal duties in serving the public and bringing honor to themselves, their campus and the CSU​.

In a letter to university presidents, CSU Chancellor Jolene Koester wrote: “In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it is easy to take for granted something as essential as our personal and public safety, a luxury we are afforded, in large part, because of the CSU's police officers—the dedicated individuals whose sworn duty to protect and serve others equates to a willingness to put themselves at risk." 

"We can never thank them enough for all they do—and all they stand prepared to do—for students, faculty, staff and the communities the CSU serves."​

Due to the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university will award recipients at their home campus in lieu of an in-person ceremony at the Chancellor's Office. ​Read about their commendable acts of service.

Sonoma State

​​​​A 2019 power outage forced Sonoma State to close the campus and evacuate residential halls, during which time vandalstwo police officers holding awards Sonoma State Police Sergeants Neal MacKenzie (left) and Maggie Nunes. conspired to burglarize dozens of ​dorm apartments. SSU Police​ Sergeant Maggie Nunes identified and apprehended three of the burglars, recovering students' property and preventing further loss. Sgt. Nunes is receiving the Meritorious Service Medal.

In summer 2020, Sonoma County used SSU dorms to house hundreds of shelter-challenged people to help stop the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable populations. Sergeant Neal MacKenzie responded to a medical aid call for a temporary resident who was found unconscious and administered lifesaving treatment. Sgt. MacKenzie is receiving the Lifesaving Medal. 

Cal Maritime

When the Glen Cove Fire jumped Highway 80 in October 2019, it ignited mature​​ eucalyptus trees on the Cal Maritime campus that produced curtains of fire over 80 feet high and threatened occupied residential areas. Cal Maritime Police Officer​ Charles Ford, along with port security guards Joel Benson and Anthony Torres, moved quickly to evacuate approximately 300 people from the campus.

Officer Ford organized a fire and safety-first response that involved physically checking all business and living areas for people and saved more than a few lives. In fact, the Vallejo Fire Department and Cal Fire stated that "not having to deal with the evacuation of people who may have been trapped helped not only save lives but aided in the ability to contain the fire."

Officer Ford is receiving the Medal of Valor for his quick and decisive action. 

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Police Sergeant Shawn Bishop assisted the City of Paso Robles Police Department in the search ​a police officer holding an awardCal Poly San Luis Obispo Sergeant Shawn Bishop (left) and Police Chief George Hughes. and capture of a homicide suspect in June 2020. The suspect shot an unarmed man and led police on a 24-hour search, wounding several officers before he was apprehended.

For his professionalism and bravery, Sgt. Bishop is receiving the Medal of Valor.    

San Diego State

​​​Following a vehicle collision close to campus in April 2020, San Diego State Police Corporal Charles Park and Detective​​ Traci Steckler located a vehicle with a sole occupant who appeared to be unconscious. Cpl. Park pried the car door open, extracted the driver and began performing CPR, and Detective Steckler administered an electrical shock from her Automated External Defibrillator (AED) until​ paramedics were able to take over and transport the driver to the hospital.

Shortly after the incident, a nurse from Project Heartbeat downloaded the data from Steckler's AED and determined that if CPR had not begun when it did, and if the AED had not been used, the driver would have died at the scene. Cpl. Park and Det. Steckler are receiving the Lifesaving Medal.​

CSU Monterey Bay

​​​​​​In late 2019, CSUM​B Police Sergeant Manuel Fernandez assisted Seaside, California police with a collision investigation close to campus in which the driver and passenger were found unconscious. Sgt. Fernandez administered lifesaving treatment to the passenger while paramedics worked on the driver, and both made a full recovery. 

Corporal Heather Murphy and Officers Joseph Cox and Louis Deeb responded to a call at an on-campus residence hall about ​a student who had been found unresponsive. The officers administered lifesaving treatment and the student regained consciousness.

For their efforts, Sgt. Fernandez, Cpl. Murphy and Officers Cox and Deeb are receiving the Lifesaving Medal.​

Cal State Fullerton

​​​​In January 2022, CSUF Police​ Corporal Autumn Hollyfield and Officer Kyle Millard responded to a medical aid call in the Auxiliary Services Corp. (ASC) building about a male subject who had fainted. The officers took over performing ​CPR​​, which had already been started by ASC employees Cindy Dowling and Ann Ehl, and applied the AED. ​​

The subject gained consciousness and was transferred to St. Jude Medical Center where he received a stent in his major artery and recovered. The family thanked everyone involved, calling them "angels."

Cpl. Hollyfield and Officer Millard both are receiving the Lifesaving Medal and Dowling, Ehl and University Police dispatcher Courtney Hoetker are receiving the Community Hero Award.​

​​To learn more about how CSU Police keep campuses and surrounding communities safe, visit the systemwide campus safety and security.