AUSTIN – The Texas Public Safety Commission (PSC) and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw today presented the inaugural William P. Clements Award to two DPS employees. Other guests, including officers and civilians at the Public Safety Commission meeting, received commendations for their extraordinary efforts and bravery.
“Each of these exceptional individuals has distinguished themselves, either through selfless service to the state of Texas or courage in the face of danger,” said Director McCraw. “Without question, Texas is a safer place and the Department a better agency because of their actions and dedication.”
Named in honor of the former governor and his commitment to excellence in government, the William P. Clements Award recognizes employees who display exceptional performance throughout the course of their DPS career. The commissioned recipient was Trooper Robert Ben Samuel Dollar, Highway Patrol in Panhandle, and the non-commissioned recipient was Ramiro Valdez, lead evidence technician from the Law Enforcement Support Division in Weslaco.
Dollar began his career with the DPS in 2005 and joined the Texas Highway Patrol interdiction instruction team in 2007. In 2012 Dollar stopped a truck tractor semi-trailer and determined the two occupants were unlawfully restraining and exploiting a 16-year-old girl. The two men were arrested, and the girl was reunited with her family. Additionally, from the fall of 2011 through 2012, he made 59 major felony drug and currency seizures during routine traffic stops. Seizures from those stops totaled more than $1.16 million in currency and drugs worth more than $14 million, including approximately 2,100 pounds of marijuana, 115 pounds of cocaine, and 98 pounds of crystal methamphetamine.
Valdez has worked in DPS crime labs since 1996, and in 2008, he was instrumental in coordinating the construction of the Hidalgo County incinerator site used for the destruction of illegal contraband. Valdez went above and beyond his job duties to help prepare the site for the incinerator, and has continued to vigilantly maintain and ensure security at the site. The operation of this incinerator, aided by Valdez’s efforts, has saved DPS and local law enforcement agencies approximately $3 million in marijuana disposal costs since October 2008.
Additional awards were presented to the following DPS employees and civilians:
Trooper Grant Belvin, Highway Patrol in Beaumont, and Trooper Elizabeth Barney, Highway Patrol in El Paso, each received the Javier Arana Jr. Top Trooper Award. This award is given for the best performance by a male and female trooper in a series of knowledge and skill tests. The annual Javier Arana Jr. Top Trooper Competition involves job knowledge, physical fitness, firearms proficiency and pursuit driving. The award is named in honor of Trooper Javier Arana Jr., who was killed in an El Paso traffic crash on March 24, 2012.
Lt. Mark Martinez, Criminal Investigations Division in Corpus Christi, received a Director’s Citation for his investigative skills and quick action on Aug. 4, 2012, that helped save the life of a kidnapped woman in Tom Green County. Convinced by intelligence gained during an ongoing investigation that the woman’s life was in imminent danger, Martinez assembled a team and executed a raid where the woman was being held. The woman had been severely beaten, choked and stabbed, and two suspects were apprehended.
Trooper Thomas Ladd, Highway Patrol in Waco, received a Life Saving Award for saving the life of a crash victim on Oct. 25, 2012, in McLennan County. Ladd was the first to arrive at the Interstate 35 crash scene involving multiple vehicles and a pedestrian fatality. Ladd helped free a construction-zone worker whose foot had been severed in the crash and who was trapped under a vehicle. Ladd fashioned a tourniquet out of items at the scene and applied the tourniquet to stop the bleeding, ultimately saving the man’s life.
Trooper Craig Price (retired) and Trooper Jason Simental, Highway Patrol in Huntsville, received Life Saving Awards for rescuing a trapped driver on Dec. 13, 2012. While on duty, Price and Simental responded to a Walker County Sheriff’s Office broadcast regarding an erratic driver, who was eventually involved in a fiery crash. At the crash scene, the two worked to extinguish the flames and remove overgrown vegetation blocking the vehicle doors. Eventually, they were able to free the driver and pull the individual to safety.
Trooper John Watson, Highway Patrol in San Marcos, received a Life Saving Award for potentially saving the life of a driver whose truck-tractor/semi-trailer was blocking three lanes of I-35 near Austin. On Nov. 19, 2012, Watson arrived at the scene to find the driver behind the wheel but unresponsive, without a pulse and not breathing. Watson, along with bystanders Carmen De Leon-Acosta and Eric Locke, administered CPR and ended the life-threatening situation. De Leon-Acosta and Locke each received the Director’s Award for their Good Samaritan actions during this incident.