Merced County names Officers of the Year

Published: Monday, Jul. 22, 2013 - 8:09 pm

Two Merced County Sheriff's Department officers were recognized Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting for their year-round efforts and contribution to the department.

"This is an affirmation from their peers for what they do day in and day out," said Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin, before presenting medallions to each of the two officers.

Deputy Lucas Hukill was presented with the Deputy Officer of the Year recognition; Correctional Officer John Hendon was selected as Officer of the Year.

Hukill has been with the department five years. He was honored for work with the Merced Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area team.

Pazin commended Hukill for heading up "Operation Crystal Clear," an investigation that resulted in the seizure of 338 pounds of methamphetamine and 11 drug trafficking arrests last year.

The operation spanned several states and required Hukill to coordinate efforts with multiple law enforcement agencies, Pazin said.

Hendon has been with the department for six years, Pazin said, and always gives "110 percent."

Hendon works as a classification officer, whose role is to determine where inmates will be placed when they enter jail. Pazin said the job is tough because Hendon is tasked with ensuring arriving inmates are safe while in the county's facilities.

"The most challenging part is getting them to open up so that we can safely place them somewhere," Hendon said. "The interview process is challenging because we have to get these guys that don't like talking to law enforcement telling us what's happening in their lives or on the streets."

Hendon said he was "honored" by the award, for which he was unanimously selected by his seven sergeants.

"My supervisors and everyone I work with is like a family," Hendon said. "It's getting rewarded for something I love doing. It's a good feeling."

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or

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