Recognized for excellence: Nevada City Elks Lodge resumes Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner |

Recognized for excellence: Nevada City Elks Lodge resumes Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner

New California Highway Patrol commander for the Grass Valley area, John Pinoli, introduced himself during the recent Nevada City Elks Lodge Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner and recognized retired Cmdr. George Steffenson for his tenure and leadership.
Photo: Elias Funez

For the first time since before the pandemic, the Nevada City Elks Lodge hosted its annual law enforcement dinner, honoring the sworn officers for what they do, while allowing the different agencies to honor those within their own departments who have been recognized for excellence.

Those treated to the tri-tip dinner included the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada County Probation Department, and Nevada City Police Department. During the dinner, the Grass Valley Police Department’s homeless liaison officer Jonathan Brown was presented with the Officer of the Year award by Police Chief Alex Gammelgard.

“There isn’t anyone I can think of that can do the job as well as Jon Brown,” Gammelgard said.

Local law enforcement personnel were treated to a tri-tip dinner by the Nevada City Elks Lodge during its annual dinner, which has resumed after a pandemic hiatus.
Photo: Elias Funez

“Ultimately, Jon Brown was selected because of how you represent the police department and policing, as well,” he added.

Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon presented a handful of awards at last week’s dinner, each of those nominated and selected by a total of 172 peers within the department, including Sheriff’s Office Team of the Year award, which went to the regional dispatch center.

“The nomination is very specific about an officer-involved shooting that occurred in Alta Sierra in February,” Moon said. “Two dispatchers did not blink an eye, they got the information out, they got the units responding. The following day they handled a house fire where a young child passed due to being trapped inside the residence. Dispatch team dealt with the River Fire and the increased calls for service for evacuations and getting resources dispatched while keeping an accurate running event to make sure that evacuation locations were updated,” Moon said.

Moon also awarded the Investigative Excellence of the Year award to Sgt. Andrew Liller, citing his work on the Stan Norman murder case. The Sheriff’s Support Service Employee of the Year went to Carly Piper; Inspirational Employee of the Year to Roberta Hondle; and Deputy of the Year to Galen Spittler, also noted for his work as incident commander for the River Fire.

Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon awards Carly Piper with the Support Services Employee of the Year award.
Photo: Courtesy Austin Metzger for The Union


New California Highway Patrol Cmdr. John Pinoli did not have any awards to give during the Elks dinner, but used the opportunity to introduce himself to the local law enforcement community after taking over May 1 for Cmdr. George Steffenson.

“George Steffenson was a figurehead of this office for many years and he, too, will be moving to Montana. He’s done a lot of great work up here and I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Pinoli said. “Law enforcement hasn’t been a popular thing in the past couple of years, so it’s great to have an event like this to feel supported, it means a lot to me and a lot to the staff.”

Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner award recipients pose for a group photo following the awards ceremony.
Photo: Elias Funez

Interim Nevada City Police Chief Ted Stec also had no awards to present during the meeting, but said that a life-saving award will be presented at an upcoming Nevada City Council meeting and thanked those in attendance for the support during his stint serving Nevada City.

Ben Hertel was awarded Probation Officer of the Year and was noted for an incident at the Nevada County Fair where he applied a tourniquet to the leg of a juvenile who had been stabbed.

Probation Support Staff of the Year went to Jeanette Gonzales, who works at the Truckee office, and was noted for working to bring the two sides of the county together.

Bob Burns represented Nevada County District Attorney Jesse Wilson and awarded Helenaz Moteabbed Hill with a recognition for her work on cases involving victims of sexual assault, as well as Dominic La Fountain for his commitment to public safety.

Support Staff of the Year’s Jeanette Gonzalez is called up to receive her award from the Nevada County Probation Department.
Photo: Elias Funez

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email or call 530-477-4230

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