A belated ceremony acknowledging members of the San Benito County Sheriff’s Department was held on Feb. 26 at San Benito High School in Hollister. Held at the main auditorium, 27 members of the department were honored in front of a packed audience of family and friends.
“A sheriff’s office like ours is really small,” Sheriff Eric Taylor told BenitoLink. “We have not always had a place to hold these ceremonies and you quickly fall off of these things when you bring in a lot of new employees. But is it important to me that they feel appreciated and that their families feel like they are part of our family. It is the kind of job where they might not feel comfortable being recognized, but I decided to pull rank on them and make them all come today.”
The event began with the presentation of an Exceptional Duty Medal to Capt. Thomas Keylon and a Lifesaving Medal to retired Deputy Marc Williams. Keylon’s medal was in recognition of his work in resolving the murder of Yoon “Clara” Ji. Williams was honored for his intervention in a suicide attempt that put his own life at risk.
Following medal awards, Taylor led 11 deputies and officers in the oath of office, a public formality as the oaths had been officially administered when they joined the force. Taylor then recognized 11 officers who had recently been promoted.
One of the honorees was Abram Gaytan, who was recently promoted to sergeant and has been with the department for 16 years.
“It was a childhood dream of mine to go into law enforcement,” he said. “Sheriff Taylor has brought us together as a tight-knit family and is creating a friendlier form of community policing. Being a Hollister boy and being honored here where I went to high school, I am proud of this force and to be able to serve my hometown. ”
The tone of the event was subdued, as Taylor mentioned the death of Salinas Police Officer Jorge David Alvarado, killed in the line of duty the previous evening. “It is a reminder,” Taylor said, “that in this profession, we can go from celebration to mourning in a split second.”
Taylor said that his office would be temporarily lending 10 officers to Salinas to assist the city as it copes with Alvarado’s death.
After the ceremony, the attendees were treated to a lunch donated by the high school and served by its food truck.
List of Honorees
Capt. Thomas Keylon—Exceptional Duty Medal
Deputy Marc Williams (Ret.)—Lifesaving Medal
Employees of the Year
Kevin Burley—Deputy of the Year
Julia Cortez—Correctional Officer of the Year
Lisa Ponce—Civilian Employee of the Year
Oath of Office
Justin Lemus—correctional officer
Jorge Mendoza—correctional officer
Janeth Munoz—correctional officer
Tomas Corral—bureau commander
Kellie Kennedy—bureau commander
Mike Kirschmann—bureau commander
Silvestre Yerena—bureau commander
Yma Garcia—multi-service officer
Jeanene Rasmussen—multi-service officer
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