MARCO ISLAND — Police Sgt. Hector Diaz has received many distinctions during his 22 years in law enforcement. He has been awarded the Marco Island Police Department’s life-saving medal more times than any other department member.
On Thursday, the Marco Island Police Foundation added “2013 Police Officer of the Year” to his accolades. He was unanimously selected for the honor by his peers and co-workers.
The award was given at the Hideaway Beach Club during the police foundation’s quarterly “Lunch with the Chief.” Joe Granda, president of the foundation, presented the award.
Diaz was joined for the presentation by his wife, Christine, and daughter Danielle Pipitone.
Diaz has a long history in law enforcement on Marco Island. He is a senior sergeant for the department and was its only K-9 officer. (The department no longer has K-9 patrol.)
Diaz was the fourth officer hired by the city in 1999 and after incorporation. Only five of the original 20 members hired by the department are still employed full time.
Diaz has earned many law enforcement certifications. Among them are marine vessel officer with knowledge of the Gulf of Mexico and back waters, personal watercraft officer and motorcycle officer. He also is in a select group of officers that are patrol rifle certified. He has assisted the department with its bike safety initiative.
Diaz volunteers in the community as a coach, league director and parks volunteer. He works with youth to inspire a love of nature and fishing.
His colleagues commended him for building a team environment in the department.
“It is with pride and honor we nominate Sergeant Hector Diaz, parent, husband, coach, inspirational leader, effective law enforcement officer, motivator and master of numerous policing certifications,” they wrote.
Harold Kendall was also honored as the police foundation’s first Honorary Lifetime Member.
Speaker for the luncheon was Michael Perl, retired special agent for the U.S. Secret Service. Perl also is co-owner of Naples Security Solutions, a company specializing in executive protection and private investigations.
Perl described his years in the service protecting five U.S. presidents and Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign. In the Middle East, his department helped with extraction actions during periods of increased hostilities.
Working for the government, Perl was a member of the service’s Hazardous Agent Mitigation Medical Response Team (HAMMER). The four member squad was responsible for accompanying the president and his motorcade to assist with potential contamination, medical intervention, rescue and vehicle extraction.
The team was formed in response to numerous world events that triggered the rise in terrorism such as the 1995 release of nerve agents in a Tokyo subway.