Public safety personnel from several local agencies were honored on Wednesday night during the 59th annual Public Safety Recognition dinner a the Veterans Memorial Building hosted by the Porterville Exchange Club.
California Highway Patrol (CHP), Tule River Fire Department, Tulare County Fire Department, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO), Porterville Police Department (PPD), Tule River Tribal Police Department, and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office all chose one person from their departments to honor as the officer, firefighter or district attorney of the year.
The ceremony began just after 6 p.m. with Sergeant Rick Carrillo, of the PPD, welcoming all who were in attendance in the packed Veterans Memorial Building. An invocation provided by Chaplain Steve Walker, also of the PPD, followed the welcome message. Carrillo then requested a moment of silence in honor of fallen Porterville City firefighters Ray Figueroa and Patrick Jones.
Although the Porterville Fire Department didn’t nominate one specific person as the firefighter of the year, both Figueroa and Jones were being honored after both men gave their lives to help battle the blaze of the Porterville Public Library fire that occurred on February 18. Porterville Fire Chief Dave LaPere was fully uniformed and in attendance, and several times throughout the ceremony LaPere was called upon for recognition by other public safety agencies.
After a dinner of tri-tip, chicken, baby carrots and scalloped potatoes was served, and as people began to finish eating, the recognition ceremony began.
First to present its Patrolman of the Year was CHP. CHP chose to honor Travis Vasquez. Vasquez has been a member of his department for 11 years and has been assigned to the Porterville area for the past four and a half years. Prior to transferring to Porterville, Vasquez worked the West
L.A. Area, Coalinga Area, and Fresno Area.
In honoring Vasquez the CHP stated, “His positive attitude and ability to function at a high level in a team environment makes him a valuable asset to the Porterville CHP Office exemplifies what it means to be a California Highway Patrol Officer and selflessly provides safety, service, and security to the people of California. When not patrolling the roadways of Tulare County, Officer Vasquez enjoys relieving stress by working out, jogging, going on vacations, attending church, and camping. He loves spending time with friends and family, especially his wife and three wonderful children.”
The Tule River Fire Department was next to present its firefighter of the year, Dale Murray. Murray was born in Porterville on March 14, 1996. He was raised on the Tule River Indian Reservation and graduated from Porterville High School in 2014. He chose to enroll into college in Porterville and obtained his EMT certification and attended the fire academy. Murray began working for Imperial Ambulance in Porterville in February 2016.
“Dale started his fire career on July 1, 2017 at the Tule River Fire Department as a temporary firefighter and was granted full time in October as a Firefighter 1 on the structure branch,” Murray’s biography stated. “He continues to work hard and learn to be the best firefighter that he can be.
His most recent training he completed was Rescue Systems I, just a couple of weeks ago in Southern California. His tenacity and hunger for knowledge is second to none. He is currently attending Porterville College to obtain an Associate’s degree in Fire Technology and should achieve this goal by this fall. The Tule River Fire Department says it has been an honor to have such a dedicated employee at the department. Murray answers the call whenever there is a staffing issue and has no problem
working for extended periods of time. He truly operates as a role model for his peers. His smile and sense of humor is contagious to those around him. The Tule River Fire Department can always count on Murray to pick up the morale of the crew when it’s needed.”
Next to present was the Tulare County Fire Department, and Fire Chief Charlie Norman announced Jacques “Jake” Rayburn would be this year’s recipient. Rayburn was born in Maricopa, Ariz. A few years after his birth, he and his family moved to Springville in which he spent most of his young and adult life. Rayburn attended Porterville High School and was active in water polo and swimming all four years. Rayburn started his fire career in 2003 and has worked for the following departments: Cal-Fire, Tule River, and Tulare County. He’s currently a Lieutenant for the Tulare County Fire Department, working out of the West Olive Fire Station No. 19 in the Porterville area. Rayburn has been with his department for the past two years. Since then, he has become involved with
the academy cadre for the full time employee academies as the lead instructor for V.E.S. (Vent, Enter, Search) and Hose Management and advancement.
The fourth department to honor one of its personnel was TCSO, who chose Deputy Juan Haro as the Officer of the Year. Deputy Haro was hired by the Tulare County Sheriff Office in February 2017 and is stationed at the Porterville Substation. On February of this year, Haro was in the northwest Lindsay area when he was advised of a new report of a stolen enclosed trailer taken from a Tulare area
Being familiar with the area, Haro drove to a residence on the northwest side of Lindsay, which was known to be a staging point for stolen Ag equipment in the past. There he located the stolen trailer which was hidden behind large stacks of empty orange bins. Haro contacted the victim and the trailer was returned within 30 minutes of it having been reported stolen. This was particularly
special to the victim because the trailer belonged to a recently deceased family member and the trailer held significant sentimental value above and beyond the monetary value of the trailer itself. Furthermore, while on scene recovering the trailer, Haro located a quad, an Ag welding trailer, and several large bags of Ag chemicals which looked suspicious. Through investigation, Haro determined all these were stolen and was able to get all the property returned to its owners.
In all, Haro’s investigation led to the recovery of approximately $20,000 in stolen equipment.
“Haro was successful because he was intimately familiar with the beat area, the citizens who live there, and the criminal activity that occurs there,” TCSO stated. “He used this knowledge to investigate this theft effectively which led to this successful recovery. Haro’s actions exemplified TCSO’s motto of ‘We Will Be The Difference.’ Deputy Haro was the difference.”
Up next for recognition was Porterville Police Officer Corporal Brett Calloway. Corporal Calloway was hired as a police officer with the Porterville Police Department in March of 2009. During his employment with the department, Calloway has served as a Patrol Officer, Motor Officer, General Investigations Detective, Special Investigations Detective. Calloway is also a Field Training Officer, SWAT operator and has been qualified to provide expert court testimony for gang cases. Calloway was selected as the Porterville Police Department’s Officer of the Year for his wide variety of contributions to the Department in 2019. In 2019, numerous unforeseen staffing issues required Calloway to temporarily fill in at various times as a patrol officer, patrol supervisor, and as a School Resource Officer (SRO).
“Calloway accepted these responsibilities without complaint and excelled in all of them,” PPD stated. “Most notably, and in spite of it being a temporary and unsolicited assignment, Calloway shined in his SRO duties, with several school administrative staff members from different schools requesting he remain assigned as their SRO when they were advised a permanent replacement had been assigned. No other officer within the department had their assignments and schedule altered as much as Calloway, and his enthusiasm and dedication to each of these assignments never wavered.”
Calloway is the son of Craig and Krystal Calloway. He has one sister, Kelli Calloway, who resides in Seattle. Calloway is married to Meghan Calloway. They have two children, Ella, who’s 11, and Liam, who’s 5.
Next, the Tule River Tribal Police Department chose to honor Sergeant Kenneth Clifford as its Officer of the Year. Clifford was born in 1982 in Southern California to Kenneth Lee and Charlene Clifford. He and his brother Paul and sister Annie were raised in various locations in Northern, Southern and Central California before his parents settled in Porterville.
Clifford attended North High School in Bakersfield and later Monache High School, and Porterville High School in Porterville, graduating in 2001. He would spend all of his adult life living in Porterville where he would later met his future wife, Krystina.
Together, Clifford and his wife,whom he would say is the backbone of his support system, raised their son Dominic in Porterville. Clifford is proud to say his son is a future United States Army Combat Medic. Clifford has worked in various facets of Public Safety for the Tule River Tribe since 2007 and currently supervises the Community Service Division, the Communications Division and acts as the Tule River Tribal Court Bailiff.
Last to present its honoree for the night was the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office who chose Larann Box as this year’s District Attorney of the Year. Box was born and raised in Porterville. She graduated from Monache High School in 2001, and attended Porterville College, where she graduated in 2004 with an Associates degree in Criminal Justice.
Box obtained her bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from California State Bakersfield in 2007. She graduated from LaVerne University School of Law in 2012. After passing the Bar exam in 2012, she worked at a private firm in Los Angeles, but knew her passion was criminal prosecution.
She joined the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office in March of 2014. While at the District Attorney’s Office, Box has been assigned to the Porterville office.
She has prosecuted misdemeanors, general felonies, crimes against children, and is currently assigned to gang prosecution. Outside of work, Box enjoys time with her niece and nephews. She belongs to Beta Sigma Phi, a non-profit organization that raises money for Stanford Kidney Research, Cystic Fibrosis, Scleroderma, and Lupus research. She also coaches Granite Hills Mock Trial teams and helps with the Law and Justice Pathway.
Box enjoys traveling, and every year goes on a road trip with her best friend and her children to see the United States. She has rescue pets and supports animal rescue.