SAN JOSE -- Dozens of police officers, firefighters, community activists and organizations were honored Saturday at the 29th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Santa Clara Valley awards.
One honoree was Dr. Agi Schenley, who since 2008 has developed a crisis intervention program to train local cops and first responders to deal with mentally ill people. Throughout a weeklong session, authorities from around Santa Clara County learn to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations involving people with mental problems, who often present some of the most frustrating challenges to police and dispatchers.
"We're giving the officers a basic understanding on how to recognize someone who may be mentally stressed and how can we help individuals get into programs so they can get further help," Schenley said. "It actually saves lives -- not only those of law enforcement but mentally ill in the public as well."
Organizations honored with the "Mover of Mountains" award included: the Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority; the Bill Wilson Center; the Pass the Torch Program; Help Kenyan Children Survive and Thrive; and the Black Infant Health Program of Santa Clara County.
The individuals who received the Mover of Mountains award were: Scott Savage of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office; George Schifano of the Sheriff's Office; San Jose police Lt. James Ford and Sgt. Jason Dwyer; civil rights educator Steve Turbow; Aaron Grizzell, executive director of the Northern California Martin Luther King Community Foundation; Bud Lomonaco of Crime Stoppers; San Jose community leader Aaron Resendez; and community activist Pascual Rivera.
The Working Women's Achievement awards went to: Schenley; Sunshine Borelli of Assembly Member Jim Beall's office; San Jose fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez; Gloria Maturino of the county's Parent Project; San Jose police officer Jamil Carter; Rev. Linda Lara; Kate Jones of the county's Network for a Hate Free Community; Diane Doolan of San Jose's Independent Police Auditor's Office; and Teresa Castellanos of the county's Office of Human Relations IRIS Program.