Madera County Sheriff Anderson awards citizen volunteers, dispatcher

The Fresno BeeApril 14, 2014 

Three volunteers and a dispatcher with the Madera County Sheriff's Office were honored by Sheriff John Anderson.

A husband and wife from Coarsegold, Suzetta and John Pelowski, were named top Citizen On Patrol volunteers of the year; Denny Litten of Oakhurst was named top "Rookie COP" of the year; and Mike Young was recognized as dispatcher of the year.

Young was honored at a dispatchers' banquet in Hanford on Sunday. It was the third time he received the award.

"Dispatch centers are considered the artery of law enforcement," said Erica Stuart, sheriff's spokeswoman. "It takes a special kind of person who can keep a sense of calm during moments of crisis, in order to successfully complete his or her duties."

Young's abilities to juggle multiple tasks with "tremendous enthusiasm and pride" has helped save lives, Stuart said.

The Pelowskis and Litten were honored at a banquet in Madera Ranchos on Saturday.

Citizens on Patrol tasks include house checks for homeowners away on vacation, along with welfare checks for the elderly.

As rookie of the year, Litten clocked in 250 hours barely into his first year with the volunteer COP unit -- quite a feat, since COPs are only required to patrol eight hours a month, Stuart said. The Pelowskis were honored for their "tireless service" to the unit.

"Our COP volunteers are some of the proudest and most dedicated public servants I have ever worked with," Anderson said.

For many of the unit's 35 volunteers, the COP awards ceremony was bittersweet, Stuart said, due to Anderson's impending retirement.

Anderson helped grow the volunteer unit, which started with only two residents patrolling in their personal vehicles, she said. Now the volunteer unit is compete with a fleet of cars, uniforms and radios, and has received state and national honors.

Another six COP volunteers will be sworn into the unit at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Yosemite Lakes Park clubhouse in Coarsegold.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, cgeorge@fresnobee.com or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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