2024 Twice a Citizen Gala: Eight Years at the Skirball

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“A 15-acre site was acquired in the Santa Monica Mountains, and renowned Israeli-American architect Moshe Safdie was engaged to design the campus. In 1996, the Skirball Cultural Center opened to the public.” — Excerpt from the 2023 Twice a Citizen Gala biography of Drs. Uri and Myna Herscher

The annual Reserve Officer of the Year/Twice a Citizen Gala was held on May 4, 2024, at the Skirball Cultural Center. The Gala has been held at the Skirball every year since 2017, except in 2020 during the COVID pandemic.

The LAPD Honor Guard posted the colors, the national anthem was sung by William Washington and the invocation was by Father Jose Bautista.

The Department Reserve Officer of the Year honor was awarded to Warren Dern, Training Division, Specialized Divisions. Officer Dern “is an 11-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Reserve Officer Corps … he was recruited to work the Tactics Unit of what was then the Firearms and Tactics Section … Warren further expanded his service to the Department and its communities through his tactical and firearms knowledge, by working patrol loans in Rampart Division and West Los Angeles Division. To continue his desire for service, Warren then transferred to Devonshire Division, where he focused on volunteering his time to patrol operations for two years. Knowing of his enthusiastic and knowledgeable teaching style, as well as his ability to assist with armory gun repairs, Warren was asked to return to Training Division’s Firearms Training Section.”

The other bureau honorees were Central Bureau’s Officer Raymond Hastey (Hollenbeck Area), South Bureau’s Officer Frank Camello (Harbor Area), Valley Bureau’s Officer Gary Krystof (Devonshire Area) and West Bureau’s Officer Benedict Pak (Olympic Area). Biographies of the bureau honorees and a list of all the reserve officers of the year can be found on pages 16–20.

A list of officers awarded service pins is on page 20. They include Herberto Chang, Charles Nicgorski (who was unable to attend) and Garth Pillsbury for 40 years, Stephen Whitelaw for 45 years and Ronald Batesole for 55 years.

The Gala was hosted by Mark Thompson (host of KFI Radio and The New Mark Thompson podcast), Wendy Burch (KTLA News) and LAPD Chief of Police Dominic Choi.

Chief Choi said in his remarks: “It’s an honor and a privilege to stand before such a dedicated group of individuals, whose unwavering commitment to service truly embodies the spirit of the Los Angeles Police Department. As I reflect on the history of the reserve program, I’m reminded of the remarkable legacy that each of you carries forward. When LAPD officers were called into service during World War II, it was those like you, the community members, who responded to the call of duty, stepping up and filling the gap of our officers to ensure the safety of our community. Today, when our resources are stretched thin, and we are continually asked to do more, each of our reserve officers — you step up, and you fill that gap, and you carry on that tradition of selfless service and dedication.”

He continued: “You continue to carry on that vital role in upholding the values of integrity, professionalism and dedication that define the Los Angeles Police Department, and I thank you all for that. Currently, we have 443 Level I, Level II and Level III reserve officers, who collectively contribute over 46,000 hours of service annually. Your commitment not only saves the city money but also provides invaluable support for our full-time officers, ensuring the safety and security of our neighborhoods. And tonight, as we celebrate you, the reserve officers who go above and beyond in the call of duty every day, I’m reminded of the profound impact that each of you has on our community; your willingness to serve selflessly without expectation of reward or recognition is a true testament to your character and dedication to the greater good.”

The Chief also thanked community leader honorees Lisa Specht and Jim McDonnell. He expressed gratitude to all the attendees “who support and appreciate the work of our reserve officers; your unwavering encouragement and backing mean the world to all of us, and we are truly grateful for continued support.”

The evening began with a video portraying the bravery of LAPD officers during incidents this past year. In the video, Chief Choi, Assistant Chief Daniel Randolph and Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides spoke about this bravery and dedication to service. After the video, LAPRF Presidents Karla Ahmanson and Michael Sellars welcomed the Gala attendees. President Sellars said of the video: “The power of that video is this: When you dial 9-1-1 in the City of Los Angeles, there is a chance that the officer who comes to your aid, who comes to your rescue, who risks their life, will be a reserve officer, and most will never, ever know.”

President Ahmanson said: “This Gala takes a lot of planning, and it is well worth the effort. Not only do we get to recognize officers who have shown outstanding commitment to the Department and our city, but we also get to honor those outside the Department who have strengthened the City of Los Angeles. Thank you, again, Lisa Specht and Jim McDonnell for being here.” She also introduced a video by Mayor Karen Bass.

Mayor Bass said: “Congratulations to tonight’s honorees; your exemplary leadership and dedication to the community sets a high standard for all of us to follow. As we celebrate tonight, remember the importance of unity, collaboration and service to others. Together, we can continue to build a safer, more vital and more vibrant Los Angeles for generations to come. Let me thank the Los Angeles reserve police officers for their extraordinary dedication, and congratulations to all the honorees tonight. Your service inspires us all.”

Per the Gala program: “Lisa Specht has over 30 years of leadership experience in women’s rights, social justice and education equity. Additionally, she has had substantial involvement in the governance of Los Angeles civic institutions, particularly in the areas of arts and culture. Her professional expertise encompasses the fields of both law and media.

“Specht was a partner in the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (ret.), where she provided corporations, nonprofits, developers, institutions and government agencies with strategic advice and representation on major business, legal and public policy matters. A former television news legal reporter and news anchor, Specht was also a co-presenter on the NBC show Trial Watch, in which she covered a variety of courtroom cases and interviewed defendants, prosecutors and jurors.

“Specht served as chair of the Los Angeles Music Center from 2013–2019, when she was voted chair emeritus by the TMC Board. The Music Center is one of the largest and most highly regarded performing art centers in the country.”

“Jim McDonnell, the former sheriff of Los Angeles County, joined the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy in 2022 as director of the Safe Communities Institute (SCI).

“Jim McDonnell brought more than 40 years of public safety experience to the school’s Safe Communities Institute, which advances public safety solutions. He is the first person to serve in senior executive leadership roles in the three largest policing agencies in Los Angeles County: the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD).”

Los Angeles Police Commission President Erroll G. Southers attended the Gala. He has said: “I have worked with Jim McDonnell for almost 30 years, and I am delighted he was appointed to lead the Safe Communities Institute. He brings the experience, expertise, relationships and understanding of what progressive law enforcement leadership and community engagement really mean. Jim has a global reputation, of which the Price School and the university will be the beneficiaries.”

Specht and McDonnell were introduced, respectively, by John Emerson, former U.S. ambassador to Germany and vice chair of Capital Group International, Inc., and Dr. Kenji Inaba, an LAPD reserve officer who also serves as the Department’s chief medical officer. Inaba is also a professor and vice chair of surgery, as well as the division chief of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at the University of Southern California.

The Los Angeles Police Reserve Foundation would like to thank all of the donors and supporters, including the Ahmanson Foundation; Patty and Ken McKenna; Alice and Steve Yslas; Lisa Specht; Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern, LLP; Jerry Kohl; Ambassador Frank and Kathy Baxter; Judy and Tom Flesh; Industry Security Services; the Riordan Foundation; U.S. Bank; USC Sol Price School of Public Policy; Patricia Glaser and Sam Mudie; Dr. Ira W. Krinsky; the LA PAMS Foundation; John Bravakis; Comcast NBCUniversal; Eddie Cunningham; East West Bank; KPMG; L.A. Police Protective League; Lido Advisors, the Boeckmann Charitable Foundation; Steve and Nicole Fazio; Ann Hollister; Korean American Law Enforcement Officers; L.A. Police Command Officers Association; L.A. Police Federal Credit Union; Taylor Van and Evan Meyer; the Michael and Lori Milken Family Foundation; the MLK Community Health Foundation; Deputy Chief Billy Brockway; Ashley and David Frandzel; Dr. Edward Ines, DDS; Straussner Sherman Lonné Treger Helquist; Paul and Anissa Balson; Supervisor Kathryn Barger; Jeffrey Barry; Greg and Donna Econn; the Food Allergy Institute; Gloria Grube; John Hunter; the KLM Foundation; Councilmember John Lee; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP; Scott and Michele McMullin; Merle Mullin; The Music Center; Uri and Myna Herscher, Steve Namm; Payden and Rygel; the Petersen Automotive Museum; Arsine and Gary Phillips; Phillips Law Partners, LLP; Sohaib Shaikh; Michele and Patrick Thibiant; Roger and Angelle Grace Wacker; Mark White; and so many others who purchased tickets and made donations.

The top auction donors: LAPD Air Support; LAPD SWAT; Chief of Police Dominic Choi; Steve Robinson; KTLA; Michael and Deitre Rossen; Jeffrey Lehman/KB Collections; Kali Restaurant; The Magic Castle; Gearys of Beverly Hills; LAWineFest; the Los Angeles Lakers; the Petersen Automotive Museum; Royal Sonesta Resort — San Juan; Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills; Doffo Winery — Temecula; Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa; The Huntington; Los Angeles Zoo; The Hollywood Roosevelt; Four Seasons Beverly Hills; and many more! We thank our great auctioneer, Jesse Hernandez, and all of you for your support!

The evening was coordinated by Scherr Lillico and her team at The Proper Image Events. Development by Joan Ford.

The 2025 Gala is scheduled for May 3, 2025, at the Skirball Cultural Center.