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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Contact: ATF Los Angeles Field Division

ATF Special Agent Honored for Combating Hate & Bigotry by Anti-Defamation League

Task Force Takes Down White Supremacist Gang in San Fernando Valley

LOS ANGELES -- The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) conferred the “Helene & Joseph Sherwood Family Prize for Combating Hate” to three individuals and two law enforcement groups at an awards ceremony today at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
The Helene and Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate recognizes law enforcement activities during the past two calendar years that demonstrate relentless dedication to containing and minimizing the prevalence and severity of hate motivated behavior perpetrated in their communities, and performed with professionalism, effectiveness and visibility. 
“In the 21 years this prize has been conferred, it has become one of the most prestigious awards in the law enforcement community,” said Chief Rob Handy of Huntington Beach Police Department, Chair of the Sherwood Prize Selection Committee. 
“This year’s honorees have made creative and effective contributions to the fight against hate,” said Amanda Susskind, Director of ADL’s Pacific Southwest Region.  “Whether they do so by fighting hate-motivated street gangs, monitoring radicalized terrorist groups, or standing up for the most vulnerable in our society, they are each making a tangible difference in the security of our communities.”
ADL will honor Special Agent Alan Hughes as part of the 2017 Group Honorees for his work in the San Fernando Valley Peckerwoods takedown. Hughes was part of a task force including personnel from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles Police Department Major Crimes Division who went above, and beyond, in their efforts to combat hate.
Using a holistic approach, ATF, LAPD and LA prosecutors were able to uncover and remove a stronghold of San Fernando Valley (SFV) Peckerwoods, a known white supremacist gang accused of involvement in drug and weapons trafficking, identity theft and other crimes.  This case is significant as activities of hate groups in Southern California and nationwide have become an increasing concern in the wake of reported surges in bias incidents and crimes.
In one incident, a firearm was purchased from Erik Cutshaw, of Canoga Park, a known associate of the SFV Peckerwoods gang. Cutshaw pleaded to 18 months incarceration for a felon in possession.  
Late last year, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer took a series of actions against Cutshaw’s residence and two other SFV Peckerwoods residences. The locations were alleged bases of operations for SFV Peckerwoods criminal activity, including illegal gun and drug sales, as well as places to make pipe bombs, store stolen property, and recruit and train associates in counterfeit and identity theft. One of the residences was informally abated and two are the subjects of lawsuits.
The honorees were selected from many nominations received from throughout Southern California by the distinguished Sherwood Prize Selection Committee:  Chair, Chief Rob Handy, Huntington Beach Police Department; Chief Jarrod Burguan, San Bernardino Police Department; Sheriff Geoff Dean, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department; Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike, FBI, Los Angeles; Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala, Los Angeles Police Department; Sheriff William D. Gore, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department; Chief Mike Hamel, Irvine Police Department; Special Agent in Charge Eric Harden, ATF, Los Angeles; Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, Orange County Sheriff’s Department; Chief Lori Luhnow, Santa Barbara Police Department; Chief Lyle Martin, Bakersfield Police Department; Sheriff Jim McDonnell, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Chief Chris O’Quinn, California Highway Patrol, Southern Division;  Sheriff Stan Sniff, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
The Sherwood Prize was created in 1996 by Joe and Helene Sherwood, founders of family owned and operated Daniel's Jewelers, to recognize those in the law enforcement community that go above and beyond their job descriptions in combating extremism, bigotry, and hatred.
The Helene and Joseph Sherwood Family Prize recognizes law enforcement officers, units, agencies or programs that:
  • Demonstrate an outstanding commitment to combating extremism, bigotry and hatred by performing acts outside the normal scope of duties.
  • Make an impact on victims of hate crimes or bias-motivated incidents.
  • Provide opportunities for education to reduce hate crimes and bias motivated activity.
  • Use innovative approaches to enforce or prosecute hate crime laws.
  • Make a significant difference in their community and served as a role model for his or her agency.
Los Angeles Field Division