Officers and Employees of the Year
Peace Officer of the Year 2012 - Joshua Jellsey
As a teenager, Yuba County Sheriff’s Department’s 2012 Peace Officer of the Year, Deputy Joshua (Josh) Jellsey, wanted to be either a professional baseball player or a law enforcement officer. He soon realized that hard work and desire alone would not land him in Major League Baseball, so he focused his efforts on a career in law enforcement. This decision would later benefit the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department and the citizens of Yuba County.
Josh grew up in the West Linda District of Yuba County, attending local schools. He is a graduate of Marysville High School and attended Yuba Community College. In April of 1998, following graduation from the Modular Police Academy, Josh began working for Yuba County as a reserve correctional officer. Four months later, he moved from reserve status to extra-help and then three months after that, he became of fulltime Correctional Deputy.
On November 1, 2000, Josh was promoted to Deputy Sheriff III assigned to patrol. During his time as a Deputy Sheriff III, Josh has been assigned as a Field Training Officer, a Narcotics Enforcement Officer assigned to NET-5, a Gang Officer assigned to the Yuba-Sutter Gang Task Force, a member of the Yuba County SWAT Team, and a member of the Community Oriented Policing Unit. Josh was recently awarded a position in the Investigations Unit.
Josh has received several letters of recognition:
- 2007 Sheriff’s Commendation for “Operation Triple C”
- 2008 Certificate of Appreciation for the triple homicide case at the Malvern Apts
- 2010 Case of the Month “Crimson Tide”
- 2010 Sheriff’s Commendation “Nuestra Familia”
Josh is a valued member of the Sheriff’s Department. He holds a personal stake in combating crime as he lives in the very area he patrols and conducts investigations. He has a strong work ethic and extremely dedicated to the Sheriff’s Department, staff and the people of the County. His varied assignments have given him a breadth of experience that serves to increase his effectiveness as a law enforcement officer.
Josh is very personable and has an excellent working relationship with his co-workers. He is well liked by all and is almost always seen with a smile on his face. He calls this his ideal job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Josh and his wife Jennifer have four children and make their home in West Linda. In his off time, Josh enjoys hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. He is a lifelong San Francisco 49ers fan (even through the bad times) and is an avid fantasy football participant.
Correctional Officer of the Year 2012 - Rodney Hemp
Rod Hemp was born and raised in Wisconsin. At that time his mother was an aspiring country western singer who toured with a band while dragging her infant son around with her. She enjoyed limited success, cutting one 45 rpm record and singing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville as a back-up singer with the likes of Johnny Cash and George Jones. Patsy Cline used to babysit Rod in her dressing room when his mother was on stage or rehearsing.
His family later moved to a dairy farm, and then after a couple of years they changed to beef cattle. Although he hated milking those cows, Rod credits those early years for instilling in him a strong work ethic. As a teenager, he spent summers with his grandparents in a small resort area and worked at their convenience store/roller rink/tavern. It was there, at the age of 16, he met his future wife.
Rod married his wife, Debbie, in 1978. They have two children, Jaimie and Dusty. Jaimie lives locally with her husband and three children. Dusty lives in Arizona and is a police officer for Flagstaff PD. Rod’s son was his motivation for seeking employment at the Sheriff’s Department almost 20 years ago. Dusty was three at the time and Rod felt being in law enforcement would make him a positive role model. In his view, wearing the uniform and badge meant no longer sitting on the sidelines and announced to everyone who he was and what he was about. That resonated with Rod and evidently his son noticed.
After high school, Rod enlisted in the Navy. He was stationed in San Diego and loved it there. During this time, he married Debbie. They would have stayed in San Diego when his tour of duty ended, but median home prices had just hit $100k so they thought it best to move back to Wisconsin.
Rod returned to school and earned an Associate's Degree in Computer Electronics. He was hired by Northern States Power Company shortly thereafter. He promoted quickly, but due to the company’s policy of having to live within 30 miles of the business, they were eventually forced to sell their home and relocate. They chose to return to California as his wife had been raised in Sutter and has family here.
Prior to working for the Sheriff’s Department, Rod was an electrician for 15 years, working mostly in the industrial and commercial environment. Rod began his career with the Sheriff’s Department in March of 1993. He was promoted to Corporal in October of 1997. Rod has many strengths, but he has long been recognized for his intelligence, extremely strong writing skills, and being an outstanding supervisor and an exceptional leader. These traits led to his recent promotion to Sergeant effective January 1, 2013.
He and his wife opened their home to foster care throughout the 1990’s. He lost track of how many kids came and went, but many are now successful adults with children of their own. He attributes any success as foster parents to Debbie saying she was highly respected by various foster care agencies and workers.
Rod’s hobbies come and go and, while he doesn’t currently have one, he suspects something will catch his eye again in the future and he’ll obsess over it for a while. He has always enjoyed reading. He is especially fond of history, physics and science fiction. His goal is to finish his career strong, retire, and move to Arizona. He and his wife are talking of opening and developing an animal sanctuary.
Rod has been a supervisor with the department for about 13 years. He says he grew into the position. If he was to leave tomorrow, and was asked to describe, in one word, what was the most important thing he has learned in his life, that one word would be, “tolerance”. He hopes the same for everyone.
Employee of the Year 2012 - Rosalba (Rosa) Leon
Rosa Leon was born in Mexico and came to the US in 1985. She lived in Ogden, Utah for two years and then moved to Yuba City where she has lived since. Rosa graduated from Yuba City High School in 1996 with honors in Science and Math. She received an AS degree in Administration of Justice from Yuba College in 1998 and a BS degree in Criminal Justice from Sacramento State University in 2001.
She started working in the fields with her parents when she was 11 years old until she was 14 years old. She then worked at the Sutter County Library from age 15 until she was 18 years old. She then got a full time job as a Receptionist with Richland Family Health Center and stayed employed with them through college to help pay for books and tuition. Rosa was a Cadet with Yuba City Police Department from 1997-2001. As a child, she had dreamed of being a teacher but after her experience as a cadet, she knew that law enforcement was the career for her. After graduating from Sacramento State University she applied to be a Community Service Officer at Yuba County Sheriff’s Department and was hired in September of 2002.
As a Community Service Officer, Rosa is responsible for taking “cold” reports or reports on cases that do not have suspects. Rosa is cross-trained to work in the property and evidence section of the Sheriff’s Department and fills in during vacations or peak processing times. In addition, she will be called out to assist with crime scene processing, as she is. Rosa is very efficient in her duties and completes them with a smile. She always has a pleasant greeting and a positive attitude. She has an excellent work ethic and consistently performs above expectations. She receives nominations for Employee of the Year every year but was overwhelmingly nominated by her peers this year.
Rosa’s father is her hero. He worked hard day and night in the fields to save enough money to bring his family to the US for an opportunity to live a better life. His priority in life was always his family and making sure his children got an education. He didn’t want his children working in the fields like he did. He always told his children that they could accomplish anything in life if they really set their minds to it. The hardest day of Rosa’s life was when her father passed away in July 1997.
Rosa has been happily married to her husband Josue for ten years. They have one daughter, Valeria , who is five years old and they are expecting their second daughter in March of this year. Outside of work, Rosa enjoys spending time with her family just sitting around sharing funny stories about our past. She is the second youngest of nine siblings. She and her husband enjoy taking their daughter to the park. She would like to go on a week-long family vacation to Hawaii.
Reserve Officer of the Year 2012 - SueRay Murphy
Our Reserve Officer of the Year is SueRay Murphy. One of our most tenured Reserves, SueRay started during a time when personnel files were not maintained for reserves so her precise date of hire is not known. The best estimate of SueRay’s years of service to the Yuba County Reserve Deputies organization is approximately 40 years. She has assisted in so many ways over the years and considers the resident hill deputies as “her deputies” and they feel the same about SueRay.
SueRay grew up mostly in the Challenge/Brownsville area, though she attended high school in Hayward, CA. She met and married her late husband John Murphy, who was in the U.S. Navy at the time, and they moved back to the Brownsville area. John had also been a Yuba County Sheriff’s Reserve for many years and was the Volunteer Fire Chief for the Foothill Fire Department.
SueRay, is currently a Level III reserve (mostly administrative work), but had been a Level II reserve in the past, assisting on patrol. She also worked with runaway juveniles in Yuba County, helping to locate them and subsequently reunite them with their families. John and SueRay were instrumental in establishing the original “Don Brown” Sheriff’s Substation, then located in the Brownsville Clinic complex. SueRay was the first clerk at the substation.
Years ago, the Sheriff’s Department sponsored a Lady’s Shoot program, teaching women gun safety. Former Sheriff’s Sergeant Bob Hatfield and SueRay donated their time and expertise to this annual community event.
In her spare time, SueRay enjoys the outdoors, camping, fishing, shooting and walking as well as doing some sewing. She has helped keep the citizens of the foothill area and the deputies assigned to the hill beat safe at the same time doing data entry, filing and other administrative tasks at the Brownsville substation. She has three children, Steve Murphy, Johnny Murphy and Christina Del Bono.
SueRay intends to retire this year and her absence will be sorely felt. We wish her well in her retirement and congratulate her on being selected Reserve Officer of the Year for 2012.
Volunteer of the Year 2012 - Gary Hawthorne
Our STARS Volunteer of the Year for 2012 is Gary R. Hawthorne. In the summer of 2010, Gary happened to talk to Sheriff Durfor at a community event about his desire to do some volunteer work to give back to the community. He later met with Sheriff Durfor and discussed his interests and abilities and how he might contribute. Gary is a specialist in the Microsoft Windows platform and focuses primarily on database programming using MS Access, Visual Basic, MS-SQL, and Active Server Pages. A custom software developer since 1995, Gary designs, creates, and maintains small business and corporate department databases. He has written and installed over 50 MS Access production databases in daily use by his clients. We were eager to bring him on as a STARS volunteer.
In the Fall of 2010, Gary went to work assisting our Crime Analyst with many of the tasks involved in analyzing data, identifying trends, managing databases and other related activities. At the beginning of 2012, Gary was asked to design a database program that could do some of the work in managing the Sheriff’s Office alarm program. Gary agreed to work on a program and began gathering as much information as he could about the alarm ordinance, the way we hoped to operationalize the ordinance, and other variables that might be important in the database development.
In the end, Gary presented a program that far exceeded our expectations. The program does, in a matter of a few key strokes, what would take a person hours to complete manually. Gary examined each phase in the alarm process and found a way to automate it. There are only two actions in the process that require human involvement, other than pushing keys on a keyboard. Gary’s donation of his time and knowledge have resulted in the reduction of staff time needed to manage the alarm program and save the citizens of the County of Yuba thousands of dollars. In July of 2012, Sheriff Durfor presented Gary with a Certificate of Appreciation for his work on this project.
Gary was born in New Orleans, raised in Houston until the age of 15 when his family moved to San Francisco. He also had the good fortune to live in Geneva, Switzerland for 1 year (9 years old) and Manhattan for 1 year (14 years old).
Gary attended San Francisco State College where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy with the intent of becoming a college instructor. He was a member of Gamma Sigma fraternity while at SF State. Though he did not go on to become a full-time college professor, Gary has taught academic and community education classes at Las Positas and Chabot College over the last several years. Gary established his programming and teaching career after a 30 year stint in the microcomputer industry. Working for notable leaders such as Sony Corporation and Silicon Graphics, Gary served at different times as a Product Manager, V-P of Sales, and V-P of Product Development. He has been involved with microcomputers since their inception in 1977. In 1995, Gary became self employed by starting a software development company.
Gary and his wife Kimberly live in the Brownsville area. They have two adult children, Keller and Daniel. He credits his parents’ influence in his life for his success. His father instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in him and his mother’s optimism and high expectations for him kept him focused. In his free time, Gary founded the Brownsville Farmer’s Market which has grown into a successful endeavor.