First Responders Honored by Masonic Lodge for Service Above and Beyond Call of Duty

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By MIKE UY

5:41 am | September 14, 2017


For rendering service above and beyond the call of duty, four first responders from the Pasadena area were honored and given recognition on Wednesday night by the Pasadena Freemasons.

Honored by Wisdom Lodge Number 202 at the recognition event held at the Pasadena Masonic Center were Pasadena Police Officers Brendan Thebeau and Clinton Harrell; Pasadena Fire Department staffer Christine Ferguson, and Deputy Andrew Banos of the Altadena Sheriff’s substation.

All four honorees received the prestigious “Service Beyond the Call of Duty Award” from the Masonic lodge.

Lodge Master Mark Berasley said the California Freemasonry asks lodges each September to host programs acknowledging the United States Constitution. Members of the Masonic lodge support the belief that citizens should recognize the United States Constitution as the document that carries the ideals that founded the country, and should pause to remember all the great men and women who have stood for, defended, and fought to maintain those ideals in their truest form. Recognizing individuals in public safety that provided “service beyond the call of duty” furthers this commemoration.

“In our case, we recognized three local first responder departments,” said Berasley.

Wednesday night’s awards ceremony was the Wisdom Lodge’s 16th year of recognizing exceptional public servants during their annual Observance of the United States Constitution.

Berasley said the lodge hatched the idea of recognizing the work done by members of Pasadena’s first responder organizations following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in New York City on September 11, 2001.

“Its origin was in 2001 — 16 years and two days ago — when Pasadena Fire went to New York to help about those events. After that, we came with the idea of recognition of the departments, of service above and beyond the call of duty,” he said.

Unlike other award-giving bodies, Berasley said the lodge has given the first responder departments the chance to choose among their ranks the award recipients.

“One of the things that we do is we ask the departments to choose themselves who is to be honored. It is not our place to say who it should be. So the choice is made among their peers, which should make it more meaningful to them and to the community,” he said.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Altadena Station contingent was lead by Captain Vicki Stuckey. The Wisdom Lodge recognized Deputy Andrew Banos.

Pasadena Fire Dept. Assistant Chief Jon Trautwein thanked the Wisdom Lodge for the recognition given to his Department’s Ferguson.

“This event has been happening for a number of years. For the Wisdom Lodge to support first responders is an encouraging event. Very appreciated,” Trautwein said.

According to Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez, his Department’s awardees, Officers Thebeau and Harrell, were able to reduce the number of violent incidents in the streets of Pasadena during a series of gang incidents late last year and early this year.

“They played a key role in reducing the violence that our community was plagued with from December, 2016 to February, 2017. In their combined effort, they were able to remove more than five firearms, including assault rifles from our streets and were able to take people into custody without the use of force,” said Sanchez.

“The Pasadena Police Department is very honored and very privileged to be a part of this. These officers have really exemplified courage, dedication,” added Sanchez before the ceremony. “These kinds of events really do underscore the integrity and the courage of the Pasadena Police Department and Pasadena Police officers. We are fortunate to have officers like the ones being recognized tonight. We really do appreciate the support that the Wisdom Lodge and the greater community of Pasadena provides the PPD.”

Thebeau has been with the Pasadena Police Department (PPD) for approximately one and a half years, previously serving in the US Army for four and a half years and an officer with the Torrance Police Department for three and a half years. Since coming to the PPD, Officer Thebeau has done a tremendous job in patrol as a Field Training Officers and member of the collateral SWAT team.

Harrell has been with Pasadena Police Department for approximately two years, previously with the Los Angeles Police Department for 10 years. He was also a Field Training Officer and a member of the collateral SWAT team, but now is assigned to the Air Operations Unit as an observer. Clinton also served four years in the Marine Corps.

The Pasadena Police said during the latter part of 2016, the city was plagued by a highly volatile and active gang war between a local Pasadena criminal street gang and a rival street gang from Monrovia. A myriad of drive-by and walk-up shootings resulted in several assaults and homicides. PPD officers were on high alert, vigilant, and unwavering in their efforts to stop the violence and bring those involved to justice. Officers Harrell and Brendan were an integral part of the efforts to subdue the violence.

On Monday, January 9, 2017 at 2:11 am, Officers Harrell and Thebeau attempted to stop a vehicle for suspected drunk driving. The driver did not yield to the officers and a short vehicle pursuit began. The officers followed the vehicle into a parking lot where the suspects were detained. While detaining them, Officers Harrell and Thebeau learned from the active gang member suspects there were at least 5 firearms in the car.

The officers located in the vehicle one loaded assault rifle and four loaded handguns, along with numerous rounds of ammunition. Officers Harrell and Thebeau demonstrated robust leadership skills, as well as strong tactical communication skills, resulting in an apprehension and peaceful resolution. In addition, Officer Thebeau did an outstanding job making critical radio broadcasts and controlling the situation while Officer Harrell did an excellent job setting a safe pace for suspect apprehension.

[Editor's Note: The original version of the story contained an error which has been corrected. Honoree Christine Ferguson was initially identified as a Probationary Firefighter, which is not correct.  She is actually a member of the administrative staff.]