OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside City Council recently recognized four staff members as the city’s top police and fire employees of 2020.
At the June 16 council meeting, Mayor Esther Sanchez joined Police Chief Fred Armijo and Fire Division Chief David Parsons in recognizing the city’s top public safety employees.
Two police department and two fire department employees were presented with certificates honoring the work they have done over their many years of service to the city.
“They have real dedication to the City of Oceanside,” Sanchez said.
Officer Gary Alexis was selected as OPD’s top sworn officer of the year. Alexis has worked for the police department for 26 years and is “arguably one of the hardest working police officers” the city has, Armijo said.
According to Armijo, Alexis has a talent for building rapport with people in crisis.
Earlier this year, Alexis was able to convince a man who had assaulted another officer and was refusing to cooperate peacefully with other officers. He had also previously convinced a man who had armed himself with a knife and was threatening others in a local gym to give up the weapon and surrender peacefully.
“Gary is an outstanding person and an outstanding police officer,” Armijo said. “We’re very proud to have him.”
The police department also chose to honor Graziella Fenesy as its professional staff member of the year.
Fenesy has worked as a dispatcher and professional assistant within the department’s communications center for 16 years. According to Armijo, she is the prime example of hard work and respect amongst fellow staff.
The pandemic forced some big changes in workflow at the communications center, such as greatly reducing the time dispatchers had to get 911 recordings to the District Attorney’s office from two weeks to just three days. That burden fell on Fenesy’s shoulders, but Armijo said she never complained.
“She just continues to work hard and get the job done,” he said. “She’s not only respected but she treats others with respect, which is something we need.”
The fire department recognized fire investigator Ron Owens as one of its top employees of the year for his work spearheading the department’s new drone pilot program.
Owens, a licensed pilot, brought the drone program to fruition using his own drone to start. Now, the city has three drones — two in its lifeguard division and one with Owens.
According to Owens, the infrared capabilities of the drone enable him to focus on an enflamed facility and find its hotspots. He can then provide that information to the firefighters on the ground, who then can target those specific hotspots, saving water and time.
The drones allow lifeguards to spot sharks, rip currents and other potential dangers faster and easier than driving up and down the beach.
The fire department also recognized EMS Manager Lynne Seabloom as its other employee of the year. On top of her busy work managing the department’s Emergency Medical Services, Seabloom took on the role of designated infectious control officer for the city throughout the pandemic.
As infectious control officer, Seabloom was responsible for screening every city employee who became ill from potential exposure to COVID-19. She also became the point of distribution coordinator for vaccinations.
“You have really helped ensure the lives of the citizens of Oceanside,” Sanchez told Seabloom.
The Oceanside Chamber of Commerce is slated to also recognize Owens and Seabloom as heroes during its annual Heroes of Oceanside and Camp Pendleton dinner on June 24.