A Beaumont police officer and a Beaumont police dispatcher were recently recognized for their actions during a Beaumont nightclub fight that resulted in a fatal shooting, and ended with the officer shooting and wounding the alleged gunman on July 16, 2011.
Beaumont police Officer Brent Conan was named Beaumont's Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2011 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 233.
Beaumont police Dispatcher Amanda Gomez was named Public Safety Employee of the Year for 2011 in the same ceremony, which was held Jan. 6 at Beaumont Civic Center.
Beaumont police Chief Frank Coe introduced Conan and Gomez.
Conan joined the Beaumont Police Department in 2007 and patrols the city as a motorcycle officer, Coe said.
"He's also been part of many of our special details throughout the police department," Coe said. "He's been a member of our community oriented police and problem-solving team, and he also on his own time plays with our band, which we call 'Jam with the Man.' He's a drummer and a really good one.
"Back on July 16, Officer Conan was basically out doing what police officers do, day in and day out," Coe said. "He was patrolling the city of Beaumont, he recognized that there was a gathering at a local establishment, so he went out just to make sure everything was going to be ok. And while he was there his attention was directed to an altercation.
"So he started working his way towards the altercation and as he was making his way there he heard the sound of gunshots. Now most of us when we hear the sound of gunshots we're going to do what? Go the other way.
"Officer Conan recognized he had the responsibility as a Beaumont police officer, and as a police officer for all of us, risked himself, put himself right in the middle of that dangerous situation and engaged the suspect," Coe said.
"And because of that he prevented the suspect from actually engaging other innocent parties that were at the establishment, and he defused the situation.
"Adding to that, and the reason I ask to recognize Amanda Gomez at the same time is because Amanda was the dispatcher that evening. And if you recognize what police officers do, our lifeline is our dispatchers," Coe said.
"It's pretty difficult to be a dispatcher because all you hear on the other side of that radio is a voice. And obviously when situations are stressful and very tense, the dispatcher is hearing that elevated emotional state of the police officer and her job is to keep everything calm and relaxed, and unfortunately not seeing or knowing anything that's going on.
"So she's the calm in the chaos, if you will," Coe said. "Amanda came to the Beaumont Police Department just recently. I actually had Amanda several years ago because Amanda came from the Colton Police Department where she started her dispatching career and I had the opportunity to work with her there.
"Amanda moved her family out here to the beautiful city of Beaumont and called us up one day and said 'Hey can I come work for the city that I live in?' So we hired her and based on her actions that night we definitely made a good selection in having her."
The city of Beaumont web site included more details of what unfolded that night in a recent post about the awards ceremony.
"In the highest calling of law enforcement, Conan risked his own life to save others during a July 16 confrontation with an armed suspect," the post states.
"We know that our police officers risk their lives every day to protect the community. Officer Conan was placed in that position one early morning last summer while he was checking a local business that was hosting a live DJ event. Several witnesses told him that a fight had broken out between several people.
"As Officer Conan approached, he saw a suspect draw a gun and fire several shots, striking another man and endangering many others nearby.
"Without hesitation, Officer Conan drew his gun and ordered the man to drop his weapon. When the man refused, the officer was forced to shoot the suspect to protect the lives of others. The suspect survived and is now facing murder charges. . . .
"Dispatcher Amanda Gomez was honored for her thoroughness and professional demeanor on the night of the shooting when Officer Conan acted to protect others. Dispatcher Gomez helped keep officers and the public safe.
"She demonstrated firsthand the vital role our police dispatchers play in serving our city. They are truly the 'lifeline of law enforcement.'
"Dispatching is a high-stress calling and those on the radio play an integral role in helping police officers do their jobs and keep our city safe. And dispatchers are on the front lines in particular when a 911 call comes in.
"They must keep callers calm, get vital information quickly, and accurately send officers to the right address and then relay crucial details to keep officers safe once they get there. They do this vital work by listening intently to callers who need help immediately. On the other end of the line, there’s often screaming, people yelling, the sound of traffic and other distractions.
"While police dispatchers can't literally 'see' things as they unfold, experienced ones like Amanda Gomez quickly discover what's going on and send help to protect the public.
"On July 16, 2011, Dispatcher Gomez was that reassuring voice in the night for the public and police officers."
The suspect in the shooting that night, Demario Anton Jackson, remained behind bars Friday at Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, according to inmate records. He has a Jan. 27 in Riverside Superior Court.
was founded in September 1945, and its members serve the Pass communities of Calimesa, Beaumont, Banning, Cherry Valley and Cabazon.
The post provides services for all military veterans and their families, and its members often serve as color guard during events in the Pass.
Post 233 is at 450 E. 4th St. in Beaumont. For more information call (951) 845-7807.