§1—Effective Dates: This policy shall become effective on the date of enactment and remain in force until it is rescinded. It shall be reviewed biennially on the even year, or at any time that some section appears inappropriate or out of date.
§2—Purpose and Accountability: On both an individual and team level, selection as a CATO Award recipient has become a source of pride and professional recognition throughout California’s tactical community. These awards have enhanced the standing of tactical officers, their teams and CATO itself. The purpose of this policy is to standardize the criteria and appearance for the various CATO awards. Once approved by the Board of Directors, the awards policy will become the sole source for evaluating and selecting personnel and teams for recognition as recipients for the different awards categories
§3—Scope: This policy includes all awards bestowed by CATO.
§4—Policy and Procedures
1.1. Nominations—Nominations for the various awards may be received from members of any California law enforcement agency. Nominations from outside the State of California must be submitted by current CATO members serving with the nominee or named agency. The CATO regional representatives are to be part of the nomination process. Each year, they are expected to actively solicit nominations for the SWAT Team, SWAT officer and SWAT Executive of the Year from the tactical teams in their respective areas.
1.2. Time Frame—With the exception of the Lifetime Achievement and Legacy awards, the time frame for nominations will commence upon the conclusion of the previous year’s CATO conference. Recognition must be based on events within this time frame.
1.3. Awards Manager—The CATO Awards Manager shall be a member of the Board of Directors.
1.3.1. The Awards Manager will be responsible for ensuring that proper announcements soliciting nominations are published through both the CATO News magazine and the CATO website, as well as any other available resources, including social media. The Awards Manager will be responsible for receiving nominations and confirming the validity of the supporting statement, as well as the format and accuracy of all information including contact information.
1.3.2. When the selections are finalized, the Awards Manager will report the results to the Board of Directors before the awards are presented.
1.3.3. As soon as practical after the selections have been made, the Awards Manager (or his/her designee) will be responsible for notifying the awards’ recipients.
1.3.4. As appropriate, the Awards Manager will coordinate with the Training Conference Director to arrange for conference credentials and hotel rooms for the recipients’ attendance at the Awards Dinner.
1.3.5. CATO will either fund or reimburse for recipients’ travel to the Awards Dinner. CATO will also fund or reimburse for each recipient to be accompanied by a spouse or other individual of their choice. If necessary, the Awards Manager will ensure that appropriate reimbursement forms are provided to the recipients.
1.4. Awards Committee—The CATO Awards Committee will be chaired by the Awards Manager.
1.4.1. In addition to the Manager, the committee will consist of a minimum of two other members of the Board of Directors. They will serve at the pleasure of the Awards Manager.
1.4.2. Once the various nominations have been received, the Awards Manager will convene the Awards Committee. The committee will evaluate the various nominations and select the recipients for the CATO Awards.
1.4.3. The selection process may be carried out through any media (e.g. phone, in person, electronic) as appropriate, to complete the selections in a timely manner. For the SWAT Team, SWAT Officer and Police Executive Awards, at least three nominations for each category are required for the selection process. However, at the discretion of the Awards Manager, this may be waived if the circumstances warrant such an exception.
1.4.4. While it is preferable that the other CATO Awards categories (President’s Decision Making, Lifetime Achievement and Legacy Awards) receive as many qualified nominations as possible each year, only one nomination per category will suffice for consideration by the Awards Committee.
1.4.5. The previous three awards shall only be conferred, when appropriate. There is no mandate for them to be awarded each year.
1.4.6. Nominations for any categories that do not meet the standardized selection criteria will be rejected. In such cases, a particular award category must have qualified nominations or it will not be presented.
1.5. Awards—A member of the Awards Committee will be responsible for selecting a trophy company/manufacturer to produce the awards. (If necessary, the Awards Manager may select a designee to handle this task.)
1.5.1. The physical appearance and layout will be of a standardized design as determined by the Awards Committee.
1.5.2. The cost of the awards will be paid from CATO funds by the CATO Treasurer.
1.6. Awards Presentation
1.6.1. These are to be presented at the Awards Dinner during the annual CATO Tactical Training Conference.
1.6.2. Should a recipient not be able to attend the conference, the Awards Manager will make arrangements to deliver the award in question to the recipient. Whenever possible, this should be carried out, in person, by a CATO Board member or Regional Representative
1.7. Award Design—Each award should be designed with the following aspects in mind:
1.7.1. The Awards Manager will maintain digital file examples of previous awards to
1.7.2. The CATO Logo should be prominently displayed on a scale appropriate to the
award layout. A standardized layout as to font and script size to be used by the
selected trophy company is shown below
1.8. Awards Hierarchy—In a manner similar to that of the United States Armed Forces’ ranking of its various awards and honors, the following hierarchy is established for individuals recognized for their service to the tactical community.
126.96.36.199. CATO Lifetime Achievement Award
188.8.131.52. CATO Award of Valor
184.108.40.206. CATO Legacy Award
220.127.116.11. CATO SWAT Officer of the Year Award
18.104.22.168. CATO President’s Exemplary Decision—Making Award
22.214.171.124. CATO Mentioned in Dispatch
1.8.2. The SWAT Team of the Year award should be viewed as similar in nature to that of a “Presidential Unit Citation.” The latter is used by the military to recognize the exemplary conduct of a specific unit rather than that of an individual.
1.8.3. The CATO Law Enforcement Executive of the Year Award is a category, in and of itself.
1.9. Awards Recognition—After the Awards Dinner, the various recipients shall be recognized in the CATO News and on the CATO website. (www.catonews.org)
1.9.1. The Awards Manager shall ensure that the CATO News editor and Webmaster publish this information in a timely manner. In the case of the CATO website, an appropriate CATO awards page will be implemented and maintained by the Webmaster.
1.9.2. Each award category will be memorialized through a virtual award creating a perpetual listing of the various recipients. The design should replicate to some degree that of the actual award. After each year’s CATO Conference, the name of each recipient shall be added to the list of previous recipients.
1.10. Awards Categories
1.10.1. Lifetime Achievement Award
126.96.36.199. Annual Number: One
188.8.131.52. Type of Award: Yearly, if a qualified nomination is received
184.108.40.206. Awarding Authority: CATO Board of Directors
220.127.116.11. Criteria: The individual receiving this award should be a long—standing member of the tactical community. His (or her) career should reflect an exemplary and lifelong commitment to the tactical community. To qualify, the individual’s level of personal involvement has risen to that of a “calling” to serve the tactical community. Through such leadership and dedicated service, the recipient has enhanced the professionalism of CATO and SWAT teams throughout California. This award may be presented posthumously. Due to the nature of this award, it shall require a unanimous vote of the CATO Board of Directors.
18.104.22.168. Narrative: This should be submitted by a supervisor or manager or a CATO Board Member. It should include statements and contact info for any other supporting information. The narrative should describe with a significant level of detail the professionalism and actions that are proposed to be recognized.
22.214.171.124. Citation: The ____ (year) CATO Lifetime Achievement Award presented to ___________ In recognition for ___ years of leadership and dedicated service to the tactical community raising the professionalism and standards of SWAT teams throughout California.
1.10.2. Award of Valor
126.96.36.199. Annual Number: One (More if approved by CATO Awards Committee)
188.8.131.52. Type of Award: Yearly, if a qualified nomination is received
184.108.40.206. Awarding Authority: CATO Awards Committee
220.127.116.11. Tactical officers recognized each year for this award shall have distinguished themselves in hazardous circumstances by exhibiting extreme courage in the face of great danger. These criteria are not limited to just SWAT/tactical operations. It may be presented posthumously
18.104.22.168. Criteria: The nomination should be submitted by a supervisor or manager. It should include statements and contact info for any witnesses. The narrative should specifically describe the conditions and actions that are believed to qualify the individual(s) for this award.
22.214.171.124. Citation: The ____ (year) CATO Award of Valor is presented to___________ of the __________ (agency) in recognition of his (or her) courageous actions in the face of extreme danger representing the highest standards of SWAT and the California Association of Tactical Officers
1.10.3. SWAT Legacy Award
126.96.36.199. Annual Number: One
188.8.131.52. Type of Award: Yearly if a qualified nomination is received
184.108.40.206. Awarding Authority: CATO Awards Committee
220.127.116.11. Criteria: Presented in recognition of an individual’s service and leadership to his/her team and agency. A minimum 10 years of tactical team service is required during which the nominee had a positive effect not only within their team but also within their agency and their CATO region. This individual’s efforts and behavior has elevated the tactical community’s professionalism. This award may be presented posthumously.
18.104.22.168. Narrative: This should be submitted by a supervisor or manager. It should include statements and contact info for any witnesses. The narrative should specifically describe the conditions and actions that are proposed to be recognized.
22.214.171.124. Citation: The ____ (year) CATO Legacy Award is presented to ___________ of the __________ (agency) in recognition of his (or her) exemplary service, thereby creating a positive impact with his (or her) tactical team and agency as well as benefitting CATO’s mission.
1.10.4. SWAT Officer of the Year Award
126.96.36.199. Annual Number: One
188.8.131.52. Type of Award: Yearly, if a qualified nomination is received
184.108.40.206. Awarding Authority: CATO Awards Committee
220.127.116.11. Criteria: Awarded to the tactical team member, team leader or commander who through his or her professionalism and efforts has furthered the SWAT philosophy in California law enforcement.
18.104.22.168. Narrative: Nominations should be received from a team leader, commander or higher authority within the agency. An endorsement from the agency’s chief or sheriff would be desirable but not mandatory
22.214.171.124. Citation: The ____ (year) SWAT Officer of the Year Award is presented to______________ of the __________ (agency) in recognition of his (or her) professionalism and extraordinary efforts on behalf of his/her team and the advancement of the SWAT philosophy.
1.10.5. President’s Exemplary Decision—Making Award
126.96.36.199. Annual Number: One
188.8.131.52. Type of Award: Yearly, if a qualified nomination is received
184.108.40.206. Awarding Authority: CATO President and the CATO Awards Committee
220.127.116.11. Criteria: A tactical team member, team leader or commander will be recognized for his (or her) decision making leading to a unique and/or lifesaving course of action during a tactical operation or other event. Through this, the recipient made a difference for the profession, setting a standard for future tactical challenges. This decision making shall apply not only to actions affecting civilians and fellow law enforcement personnel, but also where appropriate, suspects.
18.104.22.168. Narrative: This should be submitted by a team member, team leader or commander. It should include statements and contact info for any witnesses. The narrative should specifically describe the conditions and decision making actions that are proposed to be recognized.
22.214.171.124. Citation: The ____ (year) CATO President’s Exemplary Decision—Making Award is presented to ___________ of the __________ (agency) in recognition of his (or her) unique ingenious, lifesaving response to a tactical situation.
1.10.6. Law Enforcement Executive of the Year Award
126.96.36.199. Annual Number: One
188.8.131.52. Type of Award: Yearly, if a qualified nomination is received
184.108.40.206. Awarding Authority: CATO Awards Committee
220.127.116.11. Criteria: Awarded to the Police Chief or Sheriff (or high level executive staff member) who has gone beyond the norm in leadership and support of the agency’s tactical team.
18.104.22.168. Narrative: This should be submitted by the agency’s tactical team commander or team leader.
22.214.171.124. Citation: The _____ (year) CATO Law Enforcement Executive of the Year Award is presented to ______________ of the __________ (agency) in recognition for exemplary leadership and support provided to the (Agency)’s tactical team
1.10.7. Special Weapons Team of the Year Award
126.96.36.199. Annual Number: One
188.8.131.52. Type of Award: Yearly, if a qualified nomination is received
184.108.40.206. Awarding Authority: CATO Awards Committee
220.127.116.11. Criteria: Awarded to a tactical team for its professionalism and commitment to exemplary team work that has furthered the SWAT philosophy through the quality of its tactical operations, training and assistance to other teams. This award will have two parts. One will consist of a physical plaque to be given to the team’s representative at the CATO Awards Dinner. The second part will be a “cyber award” established on the CATO website. It will be of a similar design as the physical award but will have a “tab” to memorialize the team selected each year.
18.104.22.168. Narrative: Nominations should be received from a team leader, commander or higher authority within the agency. An endorsement from the agency’s chief or sheriff would be desirable but not mandatory.
22.214.171.124. Citation: The ____ (year) SWAT Team of the year award is presented to the ______________ in recognition of its professionalism and commitment to exemplary team effort.
1.10.8. Notable Accomplishment Recognition (Mentioned in Dispatches)
126.96.36.199. On occasion, tactical officers and teams exhibit extraordinary and prodigious acts that merit recognition in a timely manner. Rather than waiting for the Annual CATO Awards Dinner, CATO shall maintain a “Mentioned in Dispatch” option for sharing such accomplishments. This shall be disseminated through the CATO News magazine, CATONews.org website, CATO Facebook page or other suitable means of acknowledgement.
188.8.131.52. Annual Number: Unlimited
184.108.40.206. Type of Award: Occasional
220.127.116.11. Awarding Authority: Serving President of CATO or CATO Awards Committee
Extraordinary efforts in service to the law enforcement special operations community
Exceptional acts of heroism not otherwise recognized
Extraordinary initiative or ingenuity in resolving a crisis involving law enforcement special operations
Prodigious insight or cleverness contributing to increasing the professionalization of the law enforcement special operations community
Awards or commendations recognizing an individual’s efforts related to tactical assignments or actions
Community involvement such as “adopting” a charity or other self‑sacrificing effort worthy of recognition.
18.104.22.168. Narrative: The citation can address either individual or team accomplishments. It should include supporting statements and contact info and specifically describe the actions or accomplishments in a brief but concise manner. The CATO Awards Manager or serving President will review, and if approved, forward the citations for public acknowledgement.
22.214.171.124. Citation: At the discretion of the awarding authority. At a minimum, this should include the rationale for the award and the name(s) of the recipient(s)