Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Announces 2022 Congressional Law Enforcement Awards

Jun 21, 2022
Press Release
79 Awards Presented to Local Law Enforcement Officials

BRADENTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today announced the winners of his 16th Congressional District Law Enforcement Awards. Buchanan established the awards twelve years ago to give special recognition to law enforcement officers and departments in Florida’s 16th District for exceptional achievement. The winners were selected by an independent panel of current and retired law enforcement personnel organized by Buchanan. 

“Law enforcement is a noble and demanding profession that requires sacrifice, courage and a dedication to serve others,” Buchanan said. “Every day, brave men and women put themselves in harm’s way to enforce our laws and protect the public. They deserve our gratitude and respect. I believe these awards are a fitting tribute to our officers and a reminder of the important role they play in our communities.” 

So far in 2022, 141 police officers have died in the line of duty. Ambush-style attacks against police were up over 125 percent in 2021 compared to 2020.

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award: Lt. Sean Felton, Deputies Kelsey Belloise, Timothy Downey, Hugo Garcia, Grace King, Alexander Nikias, Monica Ruiz, Todd Sellitto, Logan Wilson and Robert Wildt of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office

Dedication and Professionalism AwardLt. Phillip Waller and Sgt. Aaron Pilant of the Bradenton Police Department; Officer Chris Bennett of the Holmes Beach Police Department; Deputies Maria Gillum and Rafael Ortegon, and Detective Derek Pollock of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office

Gary Tibbetts Career Service Award: Assistant Chief Josh Cramer and Detective James Curulla of the Bradenton Police Department; Barbara Ehrhart of the Florida Highway Patrol; Detective John Lake of the Sarasota Police Department; Lt. Christopher Montalbano of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Preservation of Life Award: Deputies Ryan Banning, Michael Beers, Leonel Garcia, Zameul Sanchez Garcia, Kyle Kaskiw, Joshua Langieri, Micah Osornio, Benjamin Quick, Grant Weisman, and Detective Scott Williamson of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office; Detective Vincent Diorio of the Palmetto Police Department; Officers Adam Bearden, Whitney Bentz, Ridge Collins, Terry Crenshaw, Timothy Dederick, Julius Gonzalez, Nathan Lynn, Molly Spencer, and Officer Eric Urbain of the Sarasota Police Department

Unit Citation Award: Lt. Mark Morie, Sergeants Seamus Dwyer, Stephen Ives, Brian Quiles, and Theron Robinson and Detectives Bryan Lake, Carmine Luper, Steven Luke, and James Parrish of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Children Unit, Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, and Technical Services Unit; Sergeants Stephen Barron and Paul Bulso, Detectives Kelsey Belloise, Ernest Bichsel, Keith English, Philip Fellows, Lucas Freitas-Ferreira, Cody Hobbs, Grace King, Jeremy Martin, Matthew Schwartz, and Austyn Shear of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Division Tactical Unit;  Sergeants Sean Carter and Jonathan Misiewicz, Officers Nicholas Bernier, Brenton Bieker, Jarrod Chapman, Timothy Dederick, Giovanni Gonzalez, Julius Gonzalez, Nicholas Laquidara, Nathan Lynn, Aaron Modrow, Jordan Osinga, Elise Schanley, Lauren Stevens, Eric Urbain, Becky Worthington, and Alfonso Varlaro of the Sarasota Police Department Patrol Shift 2A Unit

Buchanan is a strong supporter of the law enforcement community. He introduced the Thin Blue Line Act, which toughens penalties against anyone who murders targets police officers and other first responders. Specifically, the bill would make the murder or attempted murder of a first responder an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations. He recently led 52 of his Republican colleagues in calling for the passage of his legislation.

Earlier this year, Buchanan hosted a roundtable with key law enforcement officers from across Florida’s 16th District to discuss the disturbing rise in crime nationwide and increased threats to police and other first responders.