East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s Lt. Don Dartez was working an extra-duty assignment May 26 on Pimpernel Avenue when he spotted smoke coming from a home.
Dartez quickly notified firefighters and went inside the hometo see if anyone was still there. He found a woman sleeping inside, woke her up and helped her escape unharmed.
“You couldn’t see inside the house. There was smoke everywhere,” Dartez said.
For his heroics, Dartez received the Distinguished Service Award at the sheriff’s annual awards ceremony Monday night.
Dartez said he was just doing his job.
“Protect and serve is what we do, and we all have a passion for doing that,” Dartez said. “That’s why we put that uniform on every morning.”
Dartez and dozens of other Sheriff’s Office employees were honored for their service at the presentation at Healing Place Church on Highland Road.
Awards were handed out for accomplishments ranging from lifesaving acts to providing more than 25 years of service with the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Sid Gautreaux thanked deputies and family members attending, telling them he feels no greater satisfaction than when random strangers walk up to him and thank him for the services his deputies provide.
“Those of you being recognized tonight obviously realize that enforcing the law is just one part of what it means to be a law enforcement officer,” Gautreaux said. “You recognize that you are first and foremost a public servant.”
Three deputies were honored with the Lifesaving Award: Deputies Brandon Berggren and Debbrae Norwood and Cpl. Jason Guillot.
Berggren noticed a truck partially submerged in water off Reames Road near Pride Port Hudson Road on Jan. 1 and helped a trapped driver keep his head above the water until help arrived.
Berggren said he found the truck overturned in a ditch in about two feet of water. He went to see if anybody was trapped and found a 60-year-old man struggling to stay up.
“I took off my belt and squeezed my way into the vehicle from the window that was cracked half open, and I got in there and held him above the water,” Berggren said.
Berggren said he was humbled by the honor the Sheriff’s Office gave him.
“It’s not every day you get recognized for, I guess, doing your job,” he said.
Norwood, who also received the Lifesaving Award, performed CPR on a man who collapsed at a Sonic restaurant at South Sherwood Forest Boulevard and Old Hammond Highway on June 29 until medical personnel arrived. Guillot saved a toddler’s life on May 27, 2011, at a Coy Avenue apartment by clearing the child’s airway when she began turning blue.
Deputy Mark Carrier was honored as uniform patrol deputy of the year, and Sgt. Edward Nicholson was named uniform patrol supervisor of the year.
Detective deputy of the year and detective supervisor of the year awards were handed out to Sgt. Bobby Moore and Lt. Richard St. Pierre, respectively.
Deputy Alfred McCray won corrections deputy of the year, and Cpl. Mark McKee was honored as corrections supervisor of the year.
Sgt. Kevin Lebaron and crossing guard Arthur Richardson were posthumously given In Memorial awards, which honor sheriff’s employees who died because of medical reasons while still employed by the Sheriff’s Office.