“Law enforcement is one of the most visible and interesting professionals and the work our staff does is often worth of recognition, so today we recognized some of the personnel whose actions have distinguished them from others.”

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-Folsom Police Chief Rick Hillman

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In a room filled with city and county dignitaries and family members at the Folsom Community Center Thursday, the Folsom Police Department held its long awaited awards and promotion ceremony. 

Dozens of officers received promotions in the ranks of the depart and were honored for various levels of duties they served in the community over the last several years.

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Thursday’s event was the first of its type to take place since 2017. Thanks to neighboring agencies of Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova who assisted with patrol coverage, nearly all members of the department were able to attend to either receive honors, or show support for their fellow officers. 

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“Each and every day, our staff comes to work and function as a team to provide the residents, businesses and visitors to Folsom with a safe environment to live, work and play,” said Folsom Police Chief Rick Hillman. “Just as their contributions ae important to this community, so it the support they have at home. That support is very evident here today.”

Aside from the promotion recognitions, a number of awards were presented to both citizens and members of the department Wednesday for their contributions to the community and going beyond the call of duty in many cases. 

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The Citizen Award went to local business CheckMat Folsom Brazilian Jitsu, including Elizando Beda, James Evans and Sarah Goetting. 

Folsom Police Sgt. John Triplett was presented with the Community Policing Award. The police citation award went to Jessica Hess. 

The Unit Citation Award was presented to the Sierra Chaplaincy Folsom team, including Sgt. Brian Mendenhill, Sgt. Scott Somersett, Sgt. Zachary Wells and Commander Brian Lockhart. 

Life Saving Awards were presented to Officers Austin Alvarez, Michael Austin, Sergey Chernyavskiy, Jarus Perez, David Rojo, Joshua Sena. Detectives honored were Andrew Graham, William Maslak, Patrick Thibeault. Sergeants earning the honor included Timothy Galovich and John Triplett.

Detective Patrick Thibeault was presented with the Distinguished Service Award.  

Merit Emergency Awards went to Officers Rickey Jones and Corporals Jeffrey Hedgepeth and Timothy McGarry. 

Sergeants Michael Grueneberg was issued the Bronze Star Award.  The Silver Star Award went to Officer Louis Mena and Detective Gavin Plank.

“Incidents involved law enforcement action draws more attention than any other headline story. Yet, almost every police officer will tell you that they don’t want to be in the spotlight,” said Hillman. “Law enforcement is one of the most visible and interesting professionals and the work our staff does is often worth of recognition, so today we recognized some of the personnel whose actions have distinguished them from others.”

The department promotions portion of Wednesday’s ceremony was the lengthiest, with 18 different officers be formally promoted and pinned in traditional fashion. Those who were brought to the stage Wednesday were officially promoted within 2018-2022, however, this was the first formal ceremony to honor their success. 

“We’ve gone through a lot of changes since our last promotional ceremony, promoting two commanders, four lieutenants, seven sergeants and five corporals in the last 10 months, one person has even been promoted twice during that time,” Hillman added. “Although there have been many changes, the people promoted to leadership roles were ready to move up in the organization” 

Hillman performed the honors, and shared a bit about each officer’s time with the Folsom Police Department. The officers recognized were as follows: 

Brian Lockhart was promoted to Police Commander effective December 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on May 16, 2002.  Brian is the Administration Bureau commander.

Andrew Bates was promoted to Police Commander effective December 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on July 29, 2004.  Andrew is the Operations Bureau commander.

Louis Wright was promoted to Police Lieutenant effective May 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on September 1, 2004.  Lou is assigned to the Administration Bureau as the Support Services Division commander.

Aaron Zelaya was promoted to Police Lieutenant effective July 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on July 1, 2007.  Aaron is assigned to the Operations Bureau as a Patrol Watch Commander.

David Canepa was promoted to Police Lieutenant effective September 15, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on November 1, 2012.  He is assigned to the Administration Bureau as the Criminal Investigations Division commander.

Jacob VerHalen was promoted to Police Lieutenant effective December 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on July 1, 2007.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as a Patrol Watch Commander.

Paul Rice was promoted to Police Sergeant effective June 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on February 16, 2007.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 4 supervisor.

Jeana Marendt was promoted to Police Sergeant effective June 1, 2022.  She started her career with the Folsom Police Department on May 1, 2004.  She is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 1 supervisor.

Michael Grueneberg was promoted to Police Sergeant effective July 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on November 1, 2007.  She is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Community Crime Suppression Unit supervisor.

Bob Triplett is promoted to Police Sergeant effective August 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on October 16, 2002.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 2 supervisor.

Zachary Wells is promoted to Police Sergeant effective August 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on March 1, 2014.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 5 supervisor.

Brian Mendenhall is promoted to Police Sergeant effective September 15, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on February 28, 2008.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 6 supervisor.

Scott Somersett is promoted to Police Sergeant effective December 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on July 16, 2014.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 3 supervisor.

Derek Koupal is promoted to Police Corporal effective August 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on November 7, 2016.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 1 corporal.

Reid Camp is promoted to Police Corporal effective August 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on August 1, 2007.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 4 corporal.

Jeffrey Hedgepeth is promoted to Police Corporal effective August 1, 2022.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on September 16, 2016.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 5 corporal.

Wesley Davis is promoted to Police Corporal effective December 1, 2022.  She started her career with the Folsom Police Department on January 6, 2016.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 3 corporal.

Timothy McGarry is promoted to Police Corporal effective January 1, 2023.  He started his career with the Folsom Police Department on January 1, 2019.  He is assigned to the Operations Bureau as the Team 6 corporal.

“In 2021, knowing several command staff members planned to retire in 2022, we developed a plan, supported by our City Manager Elaine Andersen, to over promote and move people around the organization,” said Hillman. “So that when retirements happened, staff would already be in place for a seamless transition of command.”

While the Folsom Police Department continues to recruit for sworn police officers, a position that has become harder to fill in present times, Hillman is confident in the force the city has in place and noted at Wednesday’s event. 

“We were confident in our plan because we knew the candidate pool we were working with was filled with outstanding people,” he said. “ I am happy to report that our leadership succession plan has been a complete success and the leadership team today is ready to inspire their colleagues, mentor the next generation of officers and work to make our department even better.”

The Folsom Caps Volunteers were also honored this week for their service.

In addition to the promotions and awards, the Folsom Police Department also recognized its dedicated team of volunteers known as CAPS that served more than 8,000 hours in 2022.

“Our CAPS help our department (and Folsom Fire Department) and our community by doing things like working the front counter at Folsom PD and Fire Departments, conducting vacation checks for residents who are out of town, helping with traffic control for parades, special events, and major traffic incidents,” said the department. “They even put together our annual Christmas Toy Drive and are instrumental in helping ensure that Santa Sleigh goes off without a hitch. In short, we couldn’t do what we do without you, CAPS! Thank you today and everyday for your service and dedication.”

The volunteers were also treated to a complimentary dinner with the help of Visconti’s Ristorante at their most recent volunteer meeting.

Special thanks to the Folsom Police Department and Knowlton Haaland Photography in the coverage of this event.

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.