(Right) Mike Levy, a 7-year veteran of the SPPD, was lauded at the December 4 awards dinner held at the Community Center. (Left) Santa Paula Police Chief Steve McLean presents Levy with his award. Reserves from the various Police Departments from around Ventura County were honored at the recent banquet. Left to right are: Henry Montelongo, Port Hueneme Police Department; Randy White, Oxnard Police Department; Mike Levy, Santa Paula Police Department; Kevin Merchant, Ventura County Sheriff; Rob DiNonno, Simi Valley Police Department Above, (left to right ) are: Councilmember Martin Hernandez, Police Chief Steve McLean, Sgt. Mike Levy, Vice-Mayor Jim Tovias, Mayor Rick Cook, and City Manager Jaime Fontes.

SPPD Reserve Officer of the Year Levy lauded at celebration of service

December 13, 2013
Santa Paula News, Obituaries

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

A Santa Paula Police Reserve Officer considered so skilled that he is one-half of the department’s two-man gang unit was honored as the 2013 Reserve Officer of the Year.

Mike Levy, a 7-year veteran of the SPPD, was lauded at the December 4 awards dinner held at the Community Center and hosted by the SPPD.

Reserve Officers from various other agencies were also honored and a special salute given to Senior Officer (Ret) Don Elliot, a 30-plus year veteran instructor at the Ventura County Police & Sheriff’s Reserve Academy.

Mayor Rick Cook, Councilmen Martin Hernandez and Jim Tovias, Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams, Port Hueneme Police Chief Bob Gager, Simi Valley Police Chief Mitch McCann, Santa Paula Police Chief Steve McLean and District Attorney Greg Totten were among those at the sold-out dinner.

Cook, a retired SPPD sergeant, welcomed the crowd noting, “Without reserves,” that supplement short-staffed police agencies, “cities could not exist,” including Santa Paula. SPPD Reserve Lt. Brad Tallent, a 20-year SPPD veteran, noted those that fill reserve ranks work regular jobs.

While some “Aspire to be full-time officers,” others, “just want to serve.”

Tallent introduced his own Reserve Coordinator Carlos Juarez. A retired SPPD Lt.; Juarez was honored as the 1997 California Reserve Coordinator.

Totten, the featured speaker, noted, “It’s a real privilege to be here as we honor our vitally important reserve officers. They make a difference every day in our community.”

McLean presented the SPPD Reserve of the Year Award to Levy, noting, “I love reserve officers, I was a former reserve officer. Some reserves want to be full-time officers and others can’t afford the pay cut!”

Levy, “Is a smart guy, he has an MBA from Pepperdine, was a CEO and is a self-made man,” with whom McLean said he greatly enjoys, “intellectual discussions.” 

Levy was hired upon graduation from the Ventura County Reserve Academy and became one of the SPPD’s most active reserves, at times putting in more than 100 hours per month. 

As a Special Response Team (SRT) member, Levy took the initiative to put himself through SWAT training.

When asked to “Take one for the team,” McLean said Levy agreed to join the SPPD Gang Unit and tackled the assignment with gusto.

With Oxnard Police and Ventura County Sheriff’s units the SPPD was able to arrest suspects in several homicides: “Mike was part of that team,” noted McLean.

Levy has also been “extremely generous with both his time and materials,” donating to the SRT the use of the armored Dragoon and a Humvee transport vehicle.

All sworn SPPD Officers were asked to nominate the Reserve of the Year and McLean quoted several comments.

Levy, “puts in countless hours,” “has always stepped up and really helped with training,” is “always willing to answer questions,” and “offers his time and resources when needed and whenever available without hesitation.”

One wrote their support for Levy was, “simply based on the fact he has responded on numerous occasions for not only call outs but transport, which I know is not the most glamorous of tasks,” while another addressed “all the superb training he has conducted for our unit.”

One noted Levy, “most importantly.... is a strong advocate for the reserve program,” while another stated Levy, “is so versatile, experienced and knowledgeable.” 

Julie Levy was present with the couples’ daughters, Taylor, 8 and Trinity, 9: The girls she noted “Are very proud of their dad!”

Tallent said Levy, promoted to reserve sergeant in 2010, has taken on planning, documenting and executing monthly sessions as unit training sergeant. 

“In addition to all his regular duties, Mike always responds to emergency call-outs,” and no matter what the need, Levy “un-selflessly volunteers his time.”

Tallent said the SPPD, “Maintains the largest reserve unit in Ventura County, all professionally trained. We field both Level II and Level I officers in a variety of assignments.”

Levy was selected to be a TAC Officer for two years at the academy, an offer made only to the top graduating student.

“Mike,” said Tallent, “is a wonderful example of the caliber of our unit.”

By the time Levy joined the SPPD he had already provided law enforcement and military training by creating a K9 training facility.

He first worked with Oxnard Police and Levy said his interest in law enforcement, “Just kind of blossomed and grew,” especially through strong friendships he developed.

His interest in becoming a reserve, “Was early on, but I was a banker so it wasn’t practical to do both.... but when I retired I had time.”

Levy has needed that time: he has been working almost 40 hours a week since assigned to the SPPD Gang Unit.

Levy’s research and observation showed that the SPPD “Has the most progressive and most utilized reserves unit in the county. Without question I know that is the case.

“We operate side-by-side with the officers doing the full scale of law enforcement activities,” with strong support in recognition of the training and skills of reserves. 

Being a reserve selected for the Special Response Team, said Levy, “I thought was awesome!”

Overall, Levy’s “Main objective in respect to the department is to add as much value as I can to the community,” he has been a resident for 19 years.

And Levy believes that being a SPPD Reserve Officer is an “Opportunity to honor our department by treating people with dignity and respect,” doing a job he sees, “As much about compassion as it is law enforcement. Police tend to be jaded because they see bad people over and over again.

“It’s very rewarding for me to work to resolve problems and help people,” and he enjoys working with McLean, who, “Cares a lot for the community and the well-being of his officers.” 

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