Board Member Honored as Reserve Officer of the Year
Dennis Alexander rescued parolee from ocean
By Will Houston
Printed in the Monterey County Herald 8/27/13
(Left: Sand City Police Sergeant Dale Allen, Dennis Alexander, Officer Veronica Harlan. Right: Dennis Alexander and his wife, Laurel Lee-Alexander.)
When a large wave knocked Dennis Alexander and the parolee he was handcuffing off a rocky shoreline in Sand City into the Monterey Bay two years ago, he did not expect to receive a reward for it. “You know, it’s just doing what’s expected for the job,” Alexander said.
When he is not serving on the Seaside City Council or teaching math (in Spanish) at Seaside High School, Alexander serves as a reserve peace officer in Sand City. Last week, Alexander was presented the Reserve Officer of the Year award by the California Reserve Peace Officers Association for his actions in Sand City. The event he was recognized for began when a parole violator fled Marina police on his motorcycle and drove to the rocky shores near Tioga Avenue in Sand City.
Alexander, along with Sgt. Dale Allen and now-retired officer Gerald Gile, responded and found the man standing on the edge of rocks and threatening to jump into the bay. “The tide was rising and he had hands hidden so we didn’t know if he had a gun ,” Alexander said. “We never expected he’d actually do it, but when he did I went in.”
After getting the parolee back on shore, Alexander was starting to handcuff him when a wave knocked the men into the bay. Even in the face of great danger, Alexander was intent on getting the job done. “It was just a matter of putting the handcuffs on him while holding on to the rocks,” Alexander said.
Alexander has served as a reserve officer for 13 years, starting in Seaside and transferring to Sand City after being elected to the Seaside City Council in 2006. “I think it’s a great way to serve the public,” Alexander said.
The importance of public service was “drilled into” him by his father, who was a sergeant in the Marine Corps. After graduating from college, Alexander served two years in the Peace Corps in the Philippines. It was there that he discovered his passion.
“That really drove the message home to serve a larger purpose than yourself,” Alexander said. “I came back and started earning my keep in this great state and this great country.” Since then, Alexander has served in a plethora of public service programs in Monterey, including Rebuilding Together, the Monterey Rape Crisis Center, the Seaside Neighborhood Improvement Program and the Disaster Action Team with the American Red Cross.
Out of all the nominated officers from hundreds of departments, Alexander was given the highest award for a reserve officer.
Timothy “T.J.” Kniveton, a program director and reserve officer at the Broadmoor Police Department, helped choose the winners at this year’s conference, which was held in San Jose. He said many reserve officers, including himself and Alexander, have full-time professions outside of the reserves and many put their life on the line for little to no pay. “It’s important to recognize these officers because they would never speak up and garner attention for themselves, especially Dennis,” Kniveton said. “To be a reserve officer is definitely a calling.”
The reserve peace officers association is a nonprofit that began in 1974 to raise the professional, educational and employment standards of Reserve Peace Officers in California, and more recently, search and rescue members and volunteers in policing.
“I can only accept this award on behalf of the people I work with,” Alexander said. “Anyone would have done the same with the right people of their team.”
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