Corona PD Honored at LEAC

On Thursday, April 28, 2017 several members of the Corona Police Department were honored by the Law Enforcement Appreciation Committee(LEAC). LEAC’s goal is to bridge our communities and business partnerships to give thanks to those officers that show a deep commitment to serving our communities of Western Riverside County. Honorees are recognized in the categories of Valor, Lifetime Achievement, Investigative Excellence, Excellence in Community Service, and Distinguished K9 Team.

The following Honorees from the Corona Police Department were honored:

Excellence in Community Service Award.

Corona Police Officer Tim Najmulski has over 20 years of law enforcement experience. Currently, he is a night shift motorcycle officer assigned to the Traffic Bureau. He has a passion to reduce the number of impaired drivers in the City of Corona, through community partnership, education, and enforcement.

The Corona Police Department hosts a quarterly “Drive 4 Life” teen driver program, designed to teach teenagers safe driving habits. Officer Najmulski teaches the impaired driving segment of the program. He instructs students on the effects of alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs while driving.

In addition to the “Drive 4 Life” program, Officer Najmulski has given presentations to local schools, participates in the department “Run with a COP,” and in the “Heroes and Helpers” event where he helps children shop for Christmas gifts.

Officer Najmulski is also the department’s Drug Recognition Expert. He uses his hundreds of hours of training and 20 years of experience to mentor patrol officers through formal classroom training, briefing training sessions, training bulletins, and assistance in the field. Officer Najmulski has also served as a guest speaker at the August quarterly meeting of the California Association of Toxicologists. During 2016,

Officer Najmulski served as the lead investigator on a fatal hit and run, issued over 1,300 traffic citations, investigated over 240 traffic collisions, and made 105 DUI arrests.

Investigative Excellence Award

In early 2016, Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Eddy and Gang Task Force Region 8 (GTF 8) member obtained information that Corona Varrio Loco (CVL) gang members were actively purchasing and storing firearms in the City of Corona.

The information received was that gang members were stealing these firearms or trading them for drugs, and that many were assault rifles. Due to the nature and possible scope of this case, GTF 8 sought assistance from the California Department of Justice – Special Operations Unit (SOU). This complex operation began with the collaboration between DOJ SOU, GTF 8 and the Corona Police Department.

GTF 8 Sergeant Ryan Brett provided leadership and support as Detective Gary Griffitts, Deputy Ryan Eddy, DOJ SOU Officer Phil Rogers and the other members of GTF 8 developed and furthered this complex investigation.

Members of GTF 8 worked tirelessly,assisting DOJ members with sophisticated investigative techniques, following up on leads, wrote numerous search warrants and actively conducted investigations associated with those warrants. Members of GTF 8 worked many long hours, often coming in on their days off to ensure that the operation was successful.

After approximately two months of this extensive investigation, a plan to takedown the operation was initiated. On June 9, 2016 at 4 a.m., GTF 8, along with 300 officers from some 15 different law enforcement agencies served 34 search warrants in Corona, Riverside, Rubidoux, El Cerrito, and Home Gardens. Because of this operation, the Corona Varrio Locos gang was devastated due to their arrests and evidence seized:

  • 52 Arrests
  • 67 Firearms recovered
  • 22 Assault weapons
  • 33 Handguns
  • 9 Rifles
  • 3 Shotguns
  • 27 pounds of methamphetamine
  • 10 pounds of cocaine
  • 1 pound of marijuana
  • $95,700 in profits tied to drug sales subject to asset forfeiture
  • 1 stolen car recovered
  • Street value of drugs seized = $1,632,172

These items would have never been seized, and the suspects would not have been identified and arrested, if it were not for the coordinated and collaborative effort of all the investigative units and assisting agencies involved. Each and every member showed dedication to their job, a sincere interest in public safety, and a desire to remove these dangerous individuals from the community they serve. The professionalism, dedication, and leadership shown by Sgt. Ryan Brett, Detective Gary Griffitts, Deputy Ryan Eddy and Officer Phil Rogers in this case was top notch.

Lifetime Achievement Award

On October 9, 1989, Daniel “Dan” Leary began his law enforcement career with the City of Corona. He attended the Riverside County Sheriff’s Academy and graduated on February 22, 1990. Upon graduation, Sgt. Leary was assigned to patrol and quickly began laying the foundation for a successful career. Sgt. Leary’s first assignment was to work commercial burglaries and arson. He excelled in this assignment and in 2008 he was appointed to Senior Detective.

In the early 90’s, he identified a neighborhood in Corona that was so poor, many of the families there could not celebrate Christmas. With the help of fellow officers and civilian staff, he solicited donations from local businesses to provide toys and food for this neighborhood. It became an annual event and in 1998, they brought Christmas to over 500 kids. This event has continued to grow and still occurs annually; it has grown so much, it had to be moved to a larger venue.

In 1996, Sgt. Leary was promoted to the rank of Corporal and in 2000, he was assigned to the Detective Bureau. Later, he was assigned to the West County Narcotics Task Force, where he worked as a corporal until his promotion to detective in 2002. In December 2011, he was promoted to Sergeant and transferred back to Patrol. He worked in Patrol until 2013 when he was assigned to supervise the Family Services Unit overseeing the Youth Diversion Team, School Resource Officers, Graffiti Investigator and permits.

Among Sgt. Leary’s many achievements, he was instrumental in developing a new grant fund – Gang Recognition and Prevention program (GRIP). Sgt. Leary and his Gang Prevention Officer created this program and had tremendous success with the intervention of middle school aged youths involved in gang activities. As the Family Services Sergeant, Sgt. Leary nurtured an extremely important and valuable relationship between the Corona/Norco Unified School District and the Corona Police Department.

In Sgt. Leary’s career at Corona PD, he has been involved with the Hostage Negotiations Team, both as a team member and supervisor, Peer Support, Labor Grievance Committee, Gang Liaison Officer, Honor Guard, and ARC Angels. He was awarded The Distinguished Service Award in 2015 by the Corona Chamber of Commerce and the LEAC Investigative Excellence Award in 2016 for his part in a large bomb threat investigation involving a local high school and an out of state suspect. For nearly 28 years of service to the citizens of Corona, LEAC would like to congratulate Sergeant Daniel Leary on his retirement and present him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Exceptional Life Saving Recognition

August 13, 2016, Corona PD Officers Rozzy Rael, Brandon Walker and Michael Neff distinguished themselves by rescuing, and providing emergency medical attention to a motorist who suffered a heart attack. Officers Rael, Walker and Neff responded to a call from the victim of an inprogress burglary, where the suspect had stolen one of his vehicles. The victim gave chase in a second vehicle as the suspect drove away. Officers Rael and Neff were the first to arrive in the area, and located the victim driving his second vehicle, but there was no sign of the stolen vehicle. While following the victim back to his residence, the victim suffered an apparent heart attack, and crashed his vehicle into another vehicle at a red light.

Rael and Neff approached the victim’s vehicle and saw that he was not breathing. Neff and Rael leaned into the vehicle from opposite sides, through the passenger and driver’s windows, and frantically tried to unlock the doors in order to get extricate the victim so they could render aid. Officer Rael made several unsuccessful attempts to unlock the seatbelt, at which point Neff gave Rael a knife, and then held the victim away from the  seatbelt as Rael cut him free. By this time, Officer Walker arrived and he and Rael used their combined strength to pull the unconscious, unresponsive, non-breathing victim from the vehicle.

Rael began CPR, and Walker took over when Rael became exhausted. They continued performing CPR until Corona Fire Department arrived on scene. The victim was stabilized, transported, survived and made a full recovery. Officers Rozzy Rael, Brandon Walker and Michael Neff were instrumental in this successful and critical medical aid incident, and LEAC is proud to present to them the Lifesaving Award for their actions during this tragic incident.

Valor Award

On October 11, 2016, just before 6:00 pm, Corona Police Sergeant Paul Gamache attempted to stop a van matching the description of a vehicle involved in a Corona drive-by shooting. Sergeant Gamache followed the van and conducted a traffic stop in the area of Buchanan and Sampson. During the stop, the suspect attempted to lure Sergeant Gamache towards the van. However, due to Sergeant Gamache’s experience and quick thinking, he stayed back with his patrol vehicle waiting for back-up units to arrive. As he waited, the suspect became agitated and drove off in the van and a vehicle pursuit ensued.

The suspect continued to the intersection of Magnolia and Pierce in the City of Riverside, where the van came to a complete stop and waited for Sergeant Gamache as he drove towards the van. The suspect partially exited the van and fired multiple shots at Sergeant Gamache striking his police vehicle. Sergeant Gamache remained extremely calm while under fire and clearly broadcasted the direction of travel while he continued pursuit of the suspect.

Riverside Police Detectives Scott Levesque and Nathan Asbury, who were nearby, witnessed Sergeant Gamache being fired at as the van approached them. Riverside Police Detectives Levesque and Asbury returned fire. As the pursuit  entered the eastbound 91 Freeway, the suspect fired at the Riverside Police detectives and Sergeant Gamache. As the suspect continued along the 91 freeway, he fired multiple shots at the pursuing officers. The suspect exited at Tyler and proceeded north to Indiana into a shopping center where he exited the van and fired multiple shots at the Riverside Police detectives. After the detectives returned fire, the suspect got back into the van and drove off. He continued east on Indiana while firing at the pursuing officers. The suspect turned northbound on Van Buren, and jumped out of the van just before it collided with an on-coming vehicle. He fled on foot with his firearm and attempted to hide.

Sergeant Gamache and Detectives Levesque and Asbury coordinated with officers from multiple agencies to establish a perimeter. After 20 minutes, the suspect emerged uninjured and surrendered without incident. After the suspect was detained, a modified assault rifle was found nearby. The suspect  was charged with attempted murder of three police officers, evading arrest, and other charges. Sergeant Gamache, Detective Scott Levesque and Detective Nathan Asbury displayed extreme heroism, exceptional collectiveness, and professionalism during this incident. They prevented the suspect from escaping while assuring public safety. Due to Sergeant Gamache and Detectives Scott Levesque and Nathan Asbury’s actions that day, no officers or citizens were injured and the suspect was apprehended. LEAC is proud to award Sergeant Paul Gamache, Detective Scott Levesque and Detective Nathan Asbury with the Award for Valor.