One Carson City deputy was honored with the Purple Heart Award and Lifesaving Award on Wednesday during a recognition ceremony at the department.
Deputy Chris Rivera was given the two honors for his actions in August on a call where he nearly lost his life.
Rivera was working an overtime shift, responding to a call of a suspicious subject on Aug. 18 at the Carson Nugget when he approached the suspect who attempted to flee. Rivera attempted to stop him and broke his prescription eyeglasses as the suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed Rivera several times in the head and face. Though the 5-inch head wound caused extreme bleeding, Rivera was able to shoot and immobilize the suspect. He kept the suspect at gunpoint until more deputies could arrive.
“He showed bravery, professionalism, restraint and tenacity ... despite injury and his lack of sight,” wrote Sgt. Mike Cullen in his nomination letter.
Rivera was also awarded the Lifesaving Award for trying to de-escalate the situation and showing restraint in only wounding the suspect.
“In the end bad people are out there and sometimes they override every tactic and de-escalation skills we have and this is an examples of the skills we need to have,” said Sheriff Ken Furlong. “We must keep those skills sharpened to the finest point because in the end those are all we have to rely on.”
Rivera thanked all of his coworkers for coming to support him.
Deputy Uriel Collazo was also awarded the Lifesaving Award for the same incident. Collazo was first on scene after the stabbing and helped administer aid to the suspect, who had critical injuries. He applied two tourniquets to the suspect’s arms and began working on his abdomen to stop the bleeding before Carson City Fire Department was on scene.
“Uriel applied in the proper manner at the proper time medical techniques to help save (the suspect’s) life,” said Deputy Dean Williams, who presented the award. “Though he saw his friend badly injured and the suspect who had inflicted that injury, he did his duty and upheld his oath to protect and applied life saving treatment to the suspect.”
Williams congratulated Collazo for sticking with his morals and helping the person who had hurt his coworker and friend.
“It was hard to see Chris, but I had to help (the suspect), I had to do it,” Collazo said.
Rivera also won Sworn Employee of the Year with the department as a part of the annual awards ceremony Wednesday. He was described by his peers as professional, knowledgable and dedicated.
“He is the embodiment of Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘speak softly and carry a big stick,” said Deputy Darrin Riggin, who presented the award. “He is a dedicated officer who has never let 10 years on the job slow his drive or his work ethic ... He is the first to a fight and is no stranger to the stress this lifestyle brings us all.”
“He is a leader in this department in every shape and manner you can think of,” Furlong added.
But Wednesday was also a day to say goodbye to another leader in the sheriff’s office. Members of the staff said their well-wishes to Undersheriff Steve Albertsen, who’s retiring next week.
“Your retirement is a bittersweet pill to swallow,” Furlong told his second-in-command. Albertsen is retiring after 15 years in the position — the longest in Carson City history.
Many employees showed their thanks to his leadership. SWAT team members awarded Albertsen with a plaque to thank him for all he had done for their team over the years, providing and updating most of the necessary equipment they use.
“It is a great honor to stand here and give honor to Steve, he has given so much to this agency and community,” said Ray Saylo, longtime friend and former employee with the department.
But Furlong was eager to also introduce a new face in the department — the selection of Jerome Tushbant as the new assistant sheriff.
“We are so excited to have Jerome join our administration, he has expressed core values that are consistent and critical to the administration success,” Furlong said.
Several employees were awarded for their dedication, passion and positive attitude to the department over the last year.
“Everyone who is on the road or sits at a desk is on the A-team because each and every one of them has the ability to change lives,” Furlong said.