Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the distinguished career of my good friend Merced County Sheriff-Coroner Tom Sawyer. Today, Tom retires after 34 years as a peace officer. True to his nature, he is only stepping aside from one venture to begin another.
I have had the privilege of working with Tom on a wide variety of issues since his earlier service with the California Highway Patrol. He is a respected member of the law enforcement community and is known for his dedication to the community.
Tom has worked on many statewide issues. He serves on the California State Board of Corrections and was instrumental in establishing the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, where he continues to serve as the Intelligence Committee chairman. Since becoming sheriff he has overseen a department that has grown by leaps and bounds.
He has been successful working with the COPs program to put more deputies on the street. He has worked tirelessly to expand the presence of the Merced County Sheriff's Department to transform his vision of improved correctional facilities and the department's relationship with the community. He has done each of these remarkably well.
One prime example is the Explorer Scouts program. When he began his tenure as sheriff, the group consisted of 8 members. Now, I am proud to report to my colleagues, the program thrives with more than 150 outstanding young men and women. Volunteerism is up and through Tom's leadership new substations help secure and ensure the safety of our communities. He has guided the department through growth in many areas including an impressive search and rescue system on land, water and in the air. Mr. Speaker, Tom's career as Merced County Sheriff-Coroner is distinguished. He has set standards for others to follow. He will be missed. I am proud to call him my friend and would ask my colleagues in the House of Representatives to rise and join me in thanking him for a job well done and wishing him the best in his retirement.
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