ITALY – Members of the Italy Police Department were joined by Chief Diron Hill and other community leaders to celebrate a successful year and recognize the achievements of several of the department’s members.

“I think it is important to honor those who serve the city. They have made Italy a better city for what they’ve done,” Hill said.

The annual awards presentation was held Friday evening at the Italy Community Center.

Sgt. Tierra Mooney was named as the department’s Officer of the Year.

“This officer has bent over backwards for the department. She has come in to work on her off days to work cases and is always there to give a hand to help others,” Hill said.

During the year, Mooney was instrumental in organizing programs including Shop with a  Cop, Guns and Hoses softball game and fireworks display, and the city’s National Night Out.

“This officer has raised thousand’s of dollars through many fund raising events and to ensure the success of these programs in the future,” Hill said.

Mooney came to the department in 2008 as a reserve following her law enforcement academy graduation.

“I started as a reserve and soon advanced to a paid position,” Mooney said.

“I never heard if Italy. While at the trailing academy, four of us were sent here for training. I was offered the reserve position halfway through my academy training time,” Mooney said.

When asked what she likes most about being an Italy police officer Mooney instantly had an answer.

“It is the overall presence of when we show up, people know that we are there to help them and help them solve their problem. That is a good reason that I am here to stay,” Mooney said.  

The department’s Medal of Valor was presented to Reserve Officer Pedero Gonzales.

“On Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, Officer Gonzales was working patrol as a volunteer reserve officer. Ellis County dispatch advised that there was a high speed pursuit traveling down I-35E. The suspect was wanted for aggravated assault on a police officer where he tried to run over an officer a week prior. Officer Gonzales positioned himself to deploy the stop sticks and as the suspect approached his position, the suspect veered across two lanes of traffic aiming at Officer Gonzales. He was able to jump away at the last second and still deploy the spike sticks causing three tires on the suspect’s tires to go flat. The car came within inches of hitting Officer Gonzales,” Hill said.

Office Gonzales was recognized for exceptional bravery during an extremely dangerous situation.

“When that car came across the median directly at me, I thought this is it. A microsecond of time would have made the outcome a whole lot different,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales has been a commissioned police officer since 1997. He holds a master Peace Officer Certification. When not patrolling the streets Italy or participating in the department’s many community events, he is a full time manager of security for a metals company.

In addition to the Medal of Valor, Gonzales was also recognized by Hill as the Reserve Officer of the Year.

The rookie of the year was presented to Mike Richardson.

“This officer is very proactive and is not afraid to go the extra mile to get the job done. He has made several felony and DWI arrests and he has helped with every department event throughout the year,” Hill said.

Besides his service as an officer, Hill also thanked him for his many contributions and advancements to the department’s IT needs.

Not all of those recognized were members of the department. A special presentation was made to Bryan Police Officer Bobby McFarland. McFarland, who is a friend of Sgt. Mooney, comes up to assist wherever he can. “He doesn’t have to be asked, he sees a need and fills it,” Hill said.

Other presentations, commendations and recognitions were made to several of the officers and to the city’s volunteer fire department.

A special recognition was presented to Chris Hyles for his help and assistance through the years.