Ronald Murillo was named the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by Police Chief Ralph Martin last week at the annual Police Awards Luncheon hosted by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

But Officer Murillo wasn’t recognized for the number of tickets written or people arrested. It was Murrillo’s proactive approach to police work, his infectious positive attitude, extensive community involvement, and efforts to improve the safety of the community.

Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin awards Ronald Murillo the Officer of the Year Award.

The award was part of the annual awards ceremony held at the Elks Lodge, where the police department and community recognize citizens, law enforcement officers and other staff members for their accomplishments in serving the local community over the past year.

Chief Martin highlighted Murillo’s dedication to the police department and local community with his affiliation to a variety of organizations, including Teen Court, SMPD Honor Guard, Every 15 Minutes and Impact Teen Driver.

Officer Murillo’s exemplary work as a Traffic Accident Reconstructionist was also noted, as well as his involvement with investigative and educational efforts surrounding the tragic teen street racing fatality in 2015. At his own request, Murillo developed an impactful education video with Impact Teen Driver that highlighted the dangers of unsafe driving to teens. The video has been shown at high schools nationwide, and shows how Murillo turned a tragedy into an educational opportunity for communities on a national level.

Upon receiving the award, Murillo said he was “quite surprised”, and was thankful to his fellow officers and local community, noting that the Santa Maria Police Department is “a great place to work”.

Other award recipients included officers Mason Jackson and Cole Whitney, who received the Lifesaving Award for assisting a women in labor and successfully delivering her child. Officer Ruben Peinado was also a recipient of this award for administering CPR and saving the life of an unresponsive man who had overdosed on heroin.

Officer Mike Guerra also received the Lifesaving Award for saving the lives of a women and her three children during a structure fire.

The Santa Maria Crime Lab received the Distinguished Team Award for their diligent work in the 2015 U Haul homicide case. Their investigative work ultimately lead to the arrest and conviction of 11 suspects.

Chief Ralph Martin presents the award for Citizen of the Year to Manuel Mondragon, Javier Limon, Jose Raymundo Garcia for their assistance in apprehending a suspect in the 2015 murder of Marilyn Pharis.

Manuel Mondragon, Javier Limon, Jose Raymundo Garcia received the Distinguished Citizens Award for their assistance in apprehending a suspect in the 2015 murder of Marilyn Pharis.

The Dispatcher of the year award was awarded to Samantha Jones, who has been with the department since 2009. Chief Martin noted Jones’ commitment to excellence and her co-workers admiration for her ability to be a “true team player.”

The luncheon took place at the Elks Lodge in Santa Maria, where over 200 police force members, volunteers, and local community members came out to support the Santa Maria Police Department.

A special thank you to all of the even sponsors, whose generous donations helped make this year’s awards a success: Abba Employer Services, Inc., Allan Hancock College, American Cancer Society, Assemblyman Katcho, Achadjian, Cal-Coast Machinery, C.E.T, City of Santa Maria, Community Bank of Santa Maria, Diane Alleman-Stevens, Diani Ward, LLC, Historic Santa Maria Inn, Honda of Santa Maria, IES, LLC, John’s Plumbing Co., Justin Fareed for Congress, Larry Appel, City of Santa Maria, Lineage Logistics, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Mike Cordero, Parker & Associates, Patti Rodriguez, Radisson Hotel, Rooney’s Irish Pub – Tim Rooney, Roland Miller, D.C, Santa Barbara County Supervisor, Steve Lavagnino, Santa Maria Foursquare Church, Santa Maria Police Council, SBB College, State Farm – Donna Randolph, Strategic Vitality, LLC, TekTegrity, Inc., and The Mortgage House.