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Top cops honored

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Cake and badges filled the South Lake Tahoe Police Department’s conference room during an awards ceremony celebrating the young, the helpful and the exceptional.

Detective Martin Hale received the Arthur Ritter Officer of the Year Award for his 16-year service with the department. The same week Hale learned of the award, he also learned of a promotion to sergeant starting June 15.

“It was probably the best month of my career,” said a smiling Hale.

The Distinguished Service Award went to Otto Bielawski, who has worked at the police department for 18 years after 22 years in the military. Bielawski might have to create more wall space since he won the Community Service Award a couple of years ago.

Abandoned vehicles are part of Bielawski’s work.

“For one thing, it allows me to keep the city clean, especially with cars because I’m part of parking enforcement,” he said.

“I don’t carry a gun so I don’t have to get into the negatives,” Bielawski added. “The negatives I get involved in are the ones that I generate by enforcing the law.”

David Peterson, 16, received the Explorer of the Year Award. The South Tahoe High School junior has wanted to become a police officer since watching “Cops” and has been in the program since 1999.

Peterson stood between Hale and Bielawski for pictures. He looked like a natural law enforcer.

The Arthur Ritter Officer of the Year Award was instituted in 1996 in memory of Arthur Ritter, a respected captain who died in 1993 from a heart attack.

Rob Hight and Mark Tappen will fill the two vacancies in the investigation unit. In addition to Hale’s departure, Detective Donna Kingman rotated back to patrol.


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