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A special night in honor of Laguna's topmost cops

May 27, 2005

BARBARA DIAMOND

The community and the Laguna Beach Police Department paid tribute May

19 to those who serve and protect us.

Thaddeus "Ted" Falencki was honored as Officer of the Year and

Mike Wallock as the Civilian Employee of the Year at the 25th annual

Police Department Awards and Recognition Dinner, presented by The

Exchange Club of Laguna Beach at Tivoli Too. Chief James Spreine and

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club officials presented the awards

"Tonight is a little difficult for me," Spreine said. "It is the

last time I will stand here as your chief. But that won't diminish my

pride. Nothing in my life has been more gratifying that to serve this

community."

Spreine will retire in October and move to Sequim, Wa. with his

wife, Linda, who retired from law enforcement in January.

Club President Katy Moss presented the Medal of Merit to Falenki,

who will celebrate 20 years with the department in August.

"Ted is the first Laguna Beach officer to be named officer of the

year twice," guest speaker Judge Gary Paer said.

Paer specially acknowledged Falencki's role in the city's DUI

checkpoint program.

"There are two ways to do checkpoints: the right way and the wrong

way," Paer said. "There are no gray areas. Ted is an expert. His bio

is quite impressive. He is an asset to the police department and as

residents, we are lucky to have him."

Besides checkpoints, Falenki has also been assigned as canine

handler, Explorer Post advisor, special events coordinator and

assistant range master. He has patrolled the city on foot, bicycle

and in cars and all-terrain vehicles.

Falencki has earned three previous Medals of Merit and a Medal of

Courage for his role in saving the life of a fellow officer fighting

an armed suspect.

Falencki's family traveled from Las Vegas to attend the banquet.

Wallock's family didn't have to come as far. His brother, Greg, is

a Laguna Beach police officer and his-sister-in-law, Coleen, is the

department's community service officer and a banquet committee

member. Brother Jeff is a police officer in Orange. Only oldest

brother Dave missed the banquet, but wife, Patty, mom, Anne, and dad,

Dave Sr. were seated front and center to see their son recognized.

Club member Zolita Scott made the presentation to Wallock, who has

only been with the department for two years.

"It's quite an accomplishment after being in the department such a

short time," Spreine said.

Motorcycle Officer Robert Van Gorder received the Police Cross

Medal for injuries he received while chasing down a fleeing felon.

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