The Respect of Law Dinner sponsored by the Miami Springs Optimist Club was once again held at the Optimist Clubhouse this year. For various reasons, the event was held at different locations for the past few years, although it was always sponsored by the Optimist Club.
With steaks donated by Ricky’s Meats and cooked on an outside grill by Optimist Club members, it was like the old days for an annual event that has been held for more than 40 years.
The year’s Officer of the Year 2013 was Detective Ray Tamargo, who also took home the 09-39 Award for most arrests. An 11-year veteran, Tamargo also was Officer of the Year 2008.
Captain Jon Kahn nominated Tamargo, citing his 38 arrests with 69 charges, 60 of which were felonies.
In January 2013, Tamargo investigated an assault on Canal Street and circulated a poster of the offenders, which helped Miami Beach Police identify the same suspects in a murder case.
In April 2013, Tamargo investigated the robbery, assault and shooting at the AT&T store in Westward Drive. The detective’s investigation identified the suspect and led to his arrest in Orlando.
In June 2013, an armed robbery occurred at a home on Nightingale Avenue and Tamargo’s investigation led to the arrest of two males and a female.
In September 2013, a 91-year-old man and his wife were robbed at a traffic light at East Drive. Tamargo’s detective work led to the arrest of the suspect and the recovery of some stolen items.
“He is truly an officer that the community can be proud of,” said Kahn.
Tamargo thanked the patrol officers, particularly Jason Hall and Gonzalo Garcia, civilian employees and the police department. The detective also made brief a statement clearly directed at the city officials who attended: Mayor Zavier Garcia, Councilman Michael Windrem and Councilman Jaime Petrolanda.
“We need your help right now,” said Tamargo. “Five years (without a raise) is way too long.”
Sgt. Jimmy Deal was given the Officer Charles B. Stafford Going the Extra Mile Award, which was suggested by Stafford’s widow, Cecelia, who attended with her daughter Natalie.
A 23-year veteran, Deal is now in charge of the Community Policing Office and also serves as a patrol sergeant one day a week. One of his duties is supervising the red light camera system.
“Sergeant Deal has demonstrated in his professionalism, commitment and hard work that he is deserving of this honor,” said Kahn.
Chief Pete Baan said, “When we have a project that hasn’t been done before or we don’t have anyone to do it, we give it to Jimmy Deal and it will get done.”
“This is the second time I won this award,” said Deal. “And it’s still a thrill to get it, but I was just doing my job.”
Grace Vazquez was honored as Civilian Employee of the Year from a nomination by Sgt. Jimmy Deal.
Deal lauded Vazquez for her dedication and keeping the Community Policing officers abreast of upcoming events and suggesting new grant opportunities. A police employee since 2001, with a gap after transferring to Public works for a while, Vazquez is now an Administrative Assistant II.
She also handles calls and walk-ins and knows the answers to most questions or where to get the information for residents, among other administrative duties.
“Grace has always demonstrated professionalism and a strong commitment to community,” said Deal. “Without her careful and persistent hard work, the CPO wouldn’t run as efficiently as it has for many years.”
Patti Bradley, the woman who plans and organizes the most notable events in the city, was surprised at being named Citizen of the Year 2013 by Chief Baan.
“It was time to recognize Patti and give her something she can hang on her wall,” said Baan. “The plaque honors her outstanding service to the community and her consistent support of the police department.”
A 40-year veteran, Baan said that it would probably be his last police dinner since he is retiring in January.
Sgt. Claire Gurney took the microphone and said, “We want to thank you for your years of service and the support you’ve given us.”
“I appreciate these compliments,” said Baan. “You all have made my job easier. As chief, I push paper work and try to get you whatever I can. Without any one of you, the department wouldn’t be what it is today. Miami Springs is also what it is today mostly because of the police department.”