Local law enforcement to be honored for A.G. cross-burning investigation

Arroyo Grande Police Station.
Arroyo Grande Police Station. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Members of the Arroyo Grande Police Department and the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office will be honored in March for their work investigating and prosecuting four people accused of burning a cross outside a black teenager’s window in Arroyo Grande in 2011.

The Anti-Defamation League will award the Helene & Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate to two individuals and three law enforcement units from California law enforcement agencies during a ceremony March 12 in Los Angeles.

The Sherwood Prize is awarded to law enforcement personnel who are committed to combating extremism, hatred and bigotry and make a significant difference in their communities, according to a news release.

Local honorees include Arroyo Grande police Detective Erik Jensen, police Cmdr. Beau Pryor, Deputy District Attorney Dave Pomeroy and Assistant Chief Investigator Mark Vallely.

The investigation of the crime became a top priority for Arroyo Grande officers shortly after an 11-foot wooden cross was stolen from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Arroyo Grande and burned on the property adjacent to the teen’s home in the early morning hours of March 18, 2011.

After a four-month investigation, the county district attorney’s office filed felony charges against four people.

“The comprehensive investigation and prosecution led to guilty verdicts with hate crime penalty enhancements,” according to the Anti-Defamation League’s news release.

The awards ceremony will start at 11:30 a.m. on March 12 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. For more information go to http://regions.adl.org/pacific-southwest/events/.

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