The 51st annual Peace Officers of the Year were awarded in a ceremony at the American Legion Hall in Placerville Wednesday evening.
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The American Legion presented its Peace Officers of the Year award to a member each of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, the Placerville Police Department and the California Highway Patrol, and were nominated and voted on by their peers in their respective agencies.
In a packed hall, the officers were presented their awards by former Sheriff Hal Barker, Legion Cmdr. Dusty Deryck and CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. CHP Cmdr. Craig Root presented the CHP award to Officer Sean Nichols.
“This award is pretty special,” Root said. “It’s for a year’s worth of service. For those 12 months, he went above and beyond.” Root noted Nichols “exemplified professionalism” and was constantly expanding his knowledge and training.
Nichols joined the CHP in 2010, in what Officer Quinn Cuthbertson called a “family legacy.” Nichols’ father, Gary, received the same award years earlier during his tenure as a CHP officer.
“He’s a good kid and a hard-working officer,” Gary Nichols said. “He wanted to be a patrol officer for as long as I can remember.” He said his son has known nothing but being an officer. “I’m very proud of him.”
“Thank you everybody,” Nichols said upon receiving the award. “It means a lot to me. I’m speechless. Thank you.”
The next award was for PPD’s Sgt. Dan Maciel, presented by new PPD Chief Scott Heller. Heller noted Maciel joined the force in September 2002 and was promoted to sergeant in 2013 for his “work ethic and knowledge.” Maciel coordinated a grant and completed the associated activities that earned PPD $15,000. He also started the local school supply drive, which has donated more than 1,000 boxes of supplies to Sierra and Schnell schools. Lt. Kim Nida also noted that Maciel is the department’s traffic sergeant.
“I’m honored to be receiving this award,” Maciel said. “It’s an honor for sure.” He thanked the Legion, his wife, children, parents and PPD. “It’s an honor to be recognized.”
The final award went to Deputy Steven “Dan” Fulton and was presented by Sheriff John D’Agostini. Fulton, who was unable to attend the ceremony, had been hired in 2001, D’Agostini said, and has been a Field Training Officer for “many years.” Fulton is also a SWAT team leader and is often an Officer in Charge. He teaches classes, including an active shooter response class and acts as a rangemaster.
“Dan exemplifies the quality employees we have in our Sheriff’s Department,” D’Agostini said. He later added that “Dan is a fantastic kid who stands out amongst his peers.”
As Fulton was in San Diego for specialized training, D’Agostini read a prepared statement from Fulton.
“I’m honored to have been selected,” Fulton wrote, and that he was “humbled to be a part” of the long-running awards.
Farrow, at the end of the ceremony, reiterated how the three came to be awarded. “For these three, what is so neat about this award, is that it is given by peers. Sometimes, peers are the greatest critics.” He said peers know “who does the heavy lifting” and who slacks off. He said of the three, “a job well done.”