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March 1, 2016 1:30 pm

Andrew Gant
Public Information Office

A few of the best of all the hard-working members of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office were honored Tuesday with top awards for their efforts solving crime, making victims whole and supporting the agency throughout 2015.

Sheriff Ben Johnson handed awards to Deputy of the Year Roy Galarza, Investigator of the Year Jayson Paul, Civilian Employee of the Year Patrick Harding, Telecommunicator of the Year Kristi Castelli and Volunteer of the Year Sandra Carlson. Each was also recognized as a top “employee of the quarter” at some point last year.

Galarza, who patrols near DeLand and in northwest Volusia, was honored for his diligence and investigative skills in identifying and charging suspects in burglary cases – even when given only vague information from the start. “Deputy Galarza is an outstanding deputy and works diligently to protect citizens in our community,” his sergeant wrote in his nomination letter.

Paul, nominated for honors twice in 2015, was recognized for his work in several complex or high-profile cases. His work investigating five organizations involved in a $2 million retail theft ring resulted in 23 arrest warrants and the dismantling of the ring. His work on a burglary investigation eventually identified a young woman who had been exploited as a victim of human trafficking. He solved numerous burglary and theft cases, including a rash of tailgate thefts that initially had few leads. “It’s men and women like you who make this agency so great,” Sheriff Johnson told Paul.

Harding, a programmer in the Sheriff’s Office information technology department, was honored for juggling three complex and time-consuming I.T. projects in 2015. These projects brought five Southeast Volusia fire stations into a new software system, reconfigured the EVAC ambulance software system and brought Volusia County’s geographic information system mapping layers into the Sheriff’s Office system for quicker responses to mapping changes. That kind of behind-the-scenes work is what keeps the agency running. “You’re a very good worker and a very smart individual,” Sheriff Johnson told Harding.

Castelli was recognized for her handling of two separate hit-and-run incidents in 2015 – with deputies locating suspects in both cases thanks in large part to her work. “On more than one occasion, Kristi has gone the extra mile and obtained information not readily available to me,” a deputy wrote in nominating her.

Carlson, one of the many generous volunteers who give their time to support the VCSO, was recognized for her friendly, outgoing demeanor and willingness to help in the Sheriff’s Office Deltona district headquarters. She trained with our civil deputies to help them with research on subjects to be served and is continuing to train on several different databases. “The volunteers are a big part of this organization,” Sheriff Johnson said. “We appreciate your work and couldn’t do it without you.”

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352

Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151

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