First Responders Singled Out for Community Outreach

Photo by Larissa Althouse / OUTLOOK Sgt. Naved Qureshi (left) and firefighter-paramedic Sam Benites were honored as police officer and firefighter of the year by the San Marino Chamber of Commerce.
Photo by Larissa Althouse / OUTLOOK
Sgt. Naved Qureshi (left) and firefighter-paramedic Sam Benites were honored as police officer and firefighter of the year by the San Marino Chamber of Commerce.

For going the extra mile in reaching out to their community, Sgt. Naved Qureshi and firefighter-paramedic Sam Benites were recognized by the San Marino Chamber of Commerce as the police officer and firefighter of the year.
The two were honored at the chamber’s 11th annual Police and Fire Appreciation Luncheon last week at the San Marino Center. Other local elected officials also were there to dole out their own recognition of the two men.Police Chief John Incontro said Qureshi, who moved to the San Marino Police Department’s detective bureau last year, had a strong role model — his late father, who was a customs and border patrol officer in his native Pakistan before becoming a police sergeant in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
“His father encouraged Naved to be a police officer and to be an honorable man committed to service and protecting others,” Incontro said at the luncheon. “He’s always willing to go the extra mile and see things through to the end. He will fill in for vacancies in patrol as well as other overtime details that come up without notice.
“He is calm, empathetic to others, supportive and, most of all, a protector to the community of San Marino,” he added.
Qureshi, a Montclair native who grew up in Upland, first entered law enforcement as a cadet with the Upland Police Department in 2001. He earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts in 2008 from Chaffey Community College and a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2010 from Cal State San Bernardino. In 2013 he joined SMPD, for which his career most recently has included the arrest of a suspect in four separate property crimes at one San Marino home.
“My eagerness to be in law enforcement is coded in my genes,” Qureshi said, paying tribute to his father.
Fire Chief Mario Rueda said he distinctly recalled his first meeting with Benites after joining the department, not least because of his charisma.
“After two years, I’ve had a chance to see Sam just excel in our department,” Rueda said. “People are drawn to him. He’s become quite the public speaker.”
Benites, a Rancho Cucamonga native, committed to becoming a firefighter after going on a ride-along with a neighbor who was with the Ontario Fire Department. After finishing high school, he enrolled in and graduated from the fire academy and paramedic school.
Rueda made Benites the department’s point man when it came to teaching community emergency response team seminars in San Marino, recently at such places as the Huntington Library and San Marino Community Church. The chief also lauded Benites for embodying a caring, compassionate attitude toward residents in need of the city Fire Department’s services.
Benites said a lot of firefighters see small departments like SMFD as a steppingstone to bigger departments, but he feels compelled to stick around.
“Ten years ago, I had no clue this city existed,” he said. “I can say now that I’m truly proud to be a part of this community. I knew very quickly early on that this was a place I wanted to stay, and I think that has a lot to do with the culture and the guys working here.”

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