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February 1, 2013 10:00 am

Brandon Haught
Public Information Office

Sheriff's Office Employees Of The Year Honored

Each year four Volusia County Sheriff’s Office employees and one volunteer are carefully chosen out of an outstanding pool of well over 1,000 people for their exceptional work performance. The five demonstrated superior work ethic and achievement, not only during the past year, but also throughout their careers serving the county’s citizens. Sheriff Ben Johnson honored these top-performing Employees of the Year 2012 during a ceremony at the Deputy Stephen Saboda Training Center Tuesday morning in Daytona Beach.

Deputy of the year Karen Pierce is the school resource deputy at both Galaxy Middle School and Deltona High School. The principals of both schools praised Pierce as an effective, professional and truly caring law enforcement representative to all of the students. She’s always positive and uplifting and is frequently asked by teachers to talk to their students about character building and making the right choices. Pierce’s energy and proactive efforts made such an impact that she was honored as Volusia County’s School Resource Deputy of the Year for the 2011-12 school year.

“You’ve worked hard and you deserve this,” said Sheriff Johnson.

Investigator of the year Brian Cobb, who works out of the Sheriff’s Office’s DeLand District office, volunteered to take on a tough investigative project that required months to bring to fruition. In addition to his already demanding regular case load, he gathered substantial background information concerning illegal activities at two local scrap yard businesses that had been causing significant problems for multiple law enforcement agencies due to the owners’ refusal to comply with state statutes. Cobb obtained financial records, created organizational charts, did background checks on employees and conducted surveillance. Finally, he prepared a 22-page search warrant that in turn led to the arrest of two defendants for dealing in stolen property, grand theft and other charges. Additionally, Cobb’s diligence on a difficult to solve series of burglaries and vandalisms at churches successfully wrapped up with an arrest.

“Investigator Cobb is never looking for an excuse on why not to work a case but rather questions himself on how to solve the case,” said Cobb’s supervisor Sergeant Garey MacDowell.

Employee of the year Annette Cazella has her hands full with clerical duties, receptionist duties and data processing for the Sex Crimes and Internet Crimes Against Children units. But she continually takes on yet more responsibilities in an effort to keep the units on the cutting edge. She sought out training on and access to several analytical databases that enable investigators to send case information across the state and nationwide. This expands their ability to gather intelligence and coordinate with other agencies. The potentially overwhelming amount of information that comes in through active case logs, hotline complaints and crime tips were expertly organized by Cazella in such a way that made them easy to manage and update.

“It’s an honor and a pleasure to present you with the annual award,” said Sheriff Johnson.

Shortly after midnight on February 20, telecommunicator of the year Frank Sclafani was dispatching for the South Daytona Police Department when a suspicious vehicle incident started. The vehicle fled from officers, and as the incident progressed, the vehicle pursuit passed through four cities, involving several officers from different agencies. Sclafani coordinated the constant flow of information as the direction of travel changed frequently. At one point, the fleeing vehicle attempted to run over an officer who was deploying stop sticks. Through it all, Sclafani remained calm and accurately documented all of the information in a timely manner. Afterwards, many of the units involved commended him for the excellent job he did.

“What a great job,” said Sheriff Johnson. “You’ve always been there for us.”

Volunteer of the year William Maxwell had to meet some very tough requirements in order to take on a position with the Major Case Unit’s Cold Case Homicide Squad. But he has met or exceeded those expectations as he poured 230 hours of volunteer time into helping establish the new squad. Maxwell assisted in the construction of a special storage area for all of the files and he then handled, read and copied every document in every file in order to properly organize them for easy future retrieval. Maxwell is a retired Volusia deputy.

“We appreciate you coming back and doing what you’re doing for us,” said Sheriff Johnson.

Sheriff Johnson also awarded Employee of the 4th Quarter honors during Tuesday’s ceremony. Deputy of the quarter Mike Cox is assigned to one of the busiest patrol areas of the DeBary district. Despite the already heavy workload, Cox made it his mission to solve several residential burglaries. It took a lot of determination and time, but the end result was seven arrests. Additionally, after weeks of diligent searching, Cox found a man wanted on an arrest warrant and during the capture helped discover and seize a pound of marijuana, thousands of dollars in cash and a handgun. Cox has a superior ability to manage his time so that he never neglects his patrol duties while conducting in-depth investigations.

Investigator of the quarter William Blissett has been a task force agent in the Volusia Bureau of Investigation since 2007. Those years of experience are invaluable to the unit as he assists newer agents with their cases. Blissett’s work ethic also was the key to securing new equipment for the Sheriff’s Office that will save a substantial amount of money when agents need to dispose of hazardous waste. A record number of methamphetamine labs were discovered in 2012, resulting in a heavy administrative workload of reporting and documenting federal compliance. Blissett handled this time-intensive task in addition to his regular duties, which was a significant contributing factor in obtaining the new equipment.

Employee of the quarter Karen Glaesel has her hands full as an administrative assistant to Sheriff Johnson as she helps manage his schedule, type correspondence, answer phones and countless other tasks. She also takes care of many jobs for the overall administrative services department such as distributing mail, ordering supplies and many other things that keep a large office running. On top of all of those responsibilities she is always looking for ways to make thing run more efficiently, such as saving at least $6,000 a year by consolidating the method of stamping and posting the Sheriff’s Office’s mail.

Telecommunicator of the quarter Sherry Braithwaite was definitely under pressure in October when she dispatched units for a home invasion incident in progress. Despite the obvious stress of staying on top of a rapidly changing situation, she disseminated the necessary information seamlessly to responding units. Minutes later another incident was reported, this time a bank robbery. Both crimes turned out to be related and Braithwaite was instrumental in maintaining control over the 68 law enforcement officers involved. Further complicating the situation was the suspects’ flight into Seminole County, which required yet more expert coordination from Braithwaite. She kept units advised of the most up to date information and allowed them to focus on securing the crime scene and apprehending the suspects.

Volunteer of the quarter Ron Wetherell gives his time to the Citizen Observer Program but he also takes a keen interest in his own neighborhood’s safety. He established a Neighborhood Watch Group in Deltona that quickly grew into a successful organization. Wetherell has logged more than 1,159 volunteer hours with the COPs and he helps train new members.

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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