It was working with community, not handcuffs, that helped Sgt. Celis Rabena of the Grover Beach Police Department earn the honor of 2017 Employee of the Year.
“Over the past year Sgt. Rabena has taken on several important tasks that have improved our community and the city organization,” said City Manager Matthew Bronson. “Sgt. Rabena has a can-do attitude and philosophy. He really embodies what we try to develop at the city and that’s a spirit of working together, working with other departments and working with the community—coming together for a common purpose, which is service to the community.”
Rabena was on duty but also on hand for the accolades at the Grover Beach City Council meeting Jan. 9.
Bronson said Rabena took the lead in improving the city’s traffic safety program under the council’s Vision Zero goal—an effort to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Rabena worked with the city of Santa Maria to obtain two used BMW police motorcycles at a cost of just $1 a piece. The sergeant helped get a grant to pay for training and equipment for the bikes. The bikes are in use now and used in traffic enforcement and safety.
Additionally, Rabena is in charge of the police department’s volunteer program, helping coordinate their activities and service to the community.
Bronson was particularly impressed with Rabena’s leadership for the Pink Patch Program aimed at raising money for breast cancer awareness, research and treatment.
“[Sgt. Rabena] was at countless events helping to sell patches to raise money, helped organize the department’s first golf tournament, and overall he and the Grover Beach Police Department raised over $7,000,” Bronson said. “The only department in California that raised more money for this program was the city of Long Beach, a city that is substantially larger than Grover Beach. So of course, that speaks to the community but also speaks to the work the sergeant did to coordinate this important program.”
Mayor John Shoals praised Rabena on behalf of the council.
“Sgt. Rabena, for your proactive nature, for your hard work for this community we salute you as our 2017 employee of the year. Thank you so much,” he said.
Rabena was a man of few words and kept his focus on future goals.
“I enjoy doing every bit of it. I expect to see everybody at the golf tournament next year,” he said. “My goal was higher but I knew it was a starting period for us, I’m hoping I can double our funds for the Pink Patch Program and make it a big thing.”
By Justin Stoner