On Saturday, May 18, 2019—in the dazzling, police-blue Donald J. Trump ballroom at the Trump National Doral—the Dade County Police Benevolent Association honored South Florida’s top first responders at the 26th Annual Law Enforcement Awards Gala. Marking their largest gala to date, there were nearly 1,000 law enforcement officers, family members, local and state government officials, donors and one very special keynote speaker: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
During an evening that included an elegant cocktail hour, dinner, dancing, live music and a Presentation of Colors by a combined multi-agency honor guard, South Florida’s finest gathered to celebrate and remember the officers who keep our communities safe. Master of Ceremonies Calvin Hughes, Emmy Award-winning newscaster and Local 10 News co-anchor, led esteemed guests through a memorable program of coveted awards and tributes. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when the lights dimmed and a video played to commemorate fallen officers, or when PBA President Steadman Stahl honored the family of Officer Jermaine Brown, a beloved Miami-Dade Police officer who tragically died in the line of duty in December 2018, with the 2018 Rhett McGregor Memorial.
Miami-Dade Correctional Officer David Ivery won 2018 Correctional Officer of the Year for saving three lives from a vehicle that flipped on I-95, and FIU Police Chief Alexander Casas and North Miami Police Chief Larry Juriga both received the Fred Maas Outstanding Law Enforcement Leadership Award. Of the impressive finalists, Doral Police Sergeant Luis Celas, Doral Officers Alberto Tellez, Scott Demby and Ralph Cuan, and Miami-Dade Police Officer Joseph Azrak were all named 2018 Officers of the Year for their heroic efforts exactly one year prior, when they took down a shooter at the Trump National Doral just steps from the room where this year’s gala took place.
While this annual event officially honors the brave men and women who wake up every morning and selflessly put their lives on the line, not a day goes by where their bravery isn’t appreciated. This sentiment was echoed in remarks by Governer DeSantis, “You’re not only performing heroic service; you’re performing service that’s indispensable to a free society. From the Governor’s office to here, thank you for what you do. You make Miami-Dade County a better place, and law enforcement throughout Florida makes Florida a better, more free state as a result of your sacrifices.”