AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday, five Central Texas law enforcement officers were among 48 honored with State of Texas Law Enforcement Achievement Awards.

The awards were presented in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Texas Capitol by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE).

Friday’s ceremony was the first held since 2019. It honored officers for outstanding achievements in public service, professional achievement and valor.

“It is a tremendous honor to recognize these amazing officers for their vision, their leadership, and their heroism,” said TCOLE executive director Kim Vickers. “These fine individuals have given so much to Texas in their time and talents, and we especially remember those who have given their lives in protection of their community.”

Public Service award

Chief Allen Banks — Round Rock Police Department

Chief Allen Banks of the Round Rock Police Department was honored with a public service award after he initiated the Operation Front Porch program. The goal of the program was to prevent package theft during the holiday season.

With the program, residents were invited to have their online purchases shipped directly to the RRPD station. The program received 30 packages in 2017, 380 in 2018 and 474 in 2019.

“The Operation Front Porch program created by Chief Banks was an innovative solution to prevent an area of seasonally heightened crime in his community, providing an example of how to create a solution for a problem in one community which can be shared with and implemented in other communities with similar issues,” Banks’ award summary said.

Constable Paul Leal — Williamson County Constable’s Office, Pct. 4

Constable Paul L. Leal of the Williamson County Constable, Precinct 4 was honored with a public service award for his community assistance efforts following the 2021 ice storm.

“Constable Paul Leal ditched his patrol car and hopped in his personal 4×4 truck and went on to 23 rescue individuals,” Leal’s award summary said.

Constable Leal also worked 12 to 16-hour shifts and delivered over 600 pounds of food to 16 homes and 46 apartment units. He also delivered firewood, helped stranded vehicles and continued to use his personal vehicle to assist the community.

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement said Constable Leal went above and beyond for his community during and in the aftermath of the historic ice storm.

Constable George Morales, III — Travis County Constable’s Office Pct. 4

Constable George Morales of the Travis County Constable, Precinct 4 was honored with a public service award for his dedication to his community and his establishment of a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic that acted as a model in Travis County.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Constable Morales set up a drive-thru vaccination shot clinic in the parking lot of the Travis County Precinct 4 office which is believed to be the first of its kind in the State,” Morales’ award summary said.

TCOLE said the model was then used to set up major drive-thru vaccination clinics throughout Travis County.

Morales was also honored by TCOLE in 2018 for public service.

Professional Achievement award

Chief Jeffrey Yarbrough — Round Rock I.S.D. Police Department

Former Round Rock ISD Police Chief Jeffrey Yarbrough was honored with a professional achievement award for helping establish RRISD’s Four Pillars of School Policing. The model focused on school safety, racial equity, behavioral health and student advocacy.

“This transformative program created and implemented by former Chief Yarbrough is aimed at serving the whole student while meeting each individual student at their needs and is a pathway to postmodern school policing,” Yarbrough’s award summary said.

The Round Rock ISD Police Department said it hoped to act as a leader in school policing using the four pillars by “engaging in equitable and unbiased student advocacy and providing the safest environment for each and every student so that they may reach their full potential.”

Valor award

Officer Kenneth Parada — University of Texas System Police Department

Officer Kenneth Parada of the University of Texas System Police Department was honored with a valor award for his actions April 27, 2021.

On April 27th, 2021, Officer Parada responded to a call about a suicidal person, threatening to jump from a six-story parking garage near the University of Texas Campus.

“Officer Parada placed his own life in jeopardy to save the life of a distraught person, seeking to end their life by jumping from a high structure. The person could have jumped, once Officer Parada made the move to grab them, pulling him over the railing with them.

“Officer Parada could have waited for the negotiations team to try and talk the person down, but instead, saw the opportunity to make the save and took it,” Parada’s award summary said. “That opportunity was only available because of the trust that Officer Parada gained by building a rapport with the person. Thanks to Officer Parada’s valorous actions which saved this man’s life, he is alive to see another day and his children still have their father.”