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February 5, 2008 11:33 am

Brandon Haught
Public Information Office

Two deputies, two civilian employees and a volunteer were selected Tuesday as the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s top workers in 2007. The five were honored by Sheriff Ben Johnson and his top command staff during an awards ceremony at the Deputy Stephen Saboda Training Center in Daytona Beach. Awards were presented to a sex crimes investigator, a patrol deputy, a support staff clerk, a telecommunicator, and a volunteer.

Crimes of a sexual nature against children grab the public’s attention any time they come to light. In 2007, Andrew "Andy" Cotton has the unsavory task of investigating such activities in his role of Internet Crimes Against Children investigator. One case started with a tip from New York that someone in Volusia County might be involved in posting child pornography on the Internet. Cotton’s detailed investigation led to a suspect in Deltona. Cotton obtained arrest warrants for 10 counts of sexual performance by a child against the suspect, who was a licensed foster parent and had 14 children in his home over the course of a year. Another case involved a man arrested in Jacksonville who mentioned he had lived in DeLand. Cotton seized a computer from the home, on which 900 illegal images were later found. His work resulted in 44 counts of possession of sexual performance by a child.

Cotton also puts his two decades of law enforcement experience to use outside of his daily job. He readily assists with anything from search warrants to Bike Week intelligence gathering. "You’ve worked all around this department, and everywhere you’ve been you’ve served with distinction," said Sheriff Johnson during the ceremony.

Deputy Josh Vedder is considered a cornerstone of his patrol shift by his fellow deputies in Deltona. He serves as a Field Training Officer, taking extra time and effort to train rookie deputies on the street, and also is a member of the Traffic Homicide Investigation unit, putting his specialty training to use on fatal car crashes. Vedder takes on some of those crash investigations even when he’s not the investigator currently scheduled to be on call. One case involving the death of a retired police officer who was walking along the side of the road and was struck and killed by a hit and run driver earned Vedder high praise for eventually getting an arrest despite having few leads to start with. Vedder is known as a steady rock in the face of challenges and a person who steps up to fill in where needed. Sheriff Johnson said, "Josh, you make us proud. This is well earned."

Civilian Employee of the Year, Lisa Stauffer, has a multitude of duties as the civilian support staff for the Sheriff’s Office’s law enforcement unit assigned to Daytona Beach International Airport. Among her duties, Stauffer is responsible for the application process for security badges, maintaining the security access system, criminal history background checks and vehicle parking decals. Through it all, Stauffer handles her assigned duties -- and more -- with precision, professionalism and a calm demeanor. "We’re proud of the job you do," said Sheriff Johnson. "You’ve earned this."

Telecommunicator of the Year honors went to Dan Peppel, a 16-year veteran in communications who returned to work in August after an 8-month battle with throat cancer. Upon his return, Peppel’s co-workers said he never skipped a beat. "From the day he came back, he jumped right back into his supervisory duties without hesitation nor complaint," said several co-workers in nominating Peppel for the award. "Dan believes in hard work, honesty, integrity and doing whatever it takes to get the job done. We at the Communications Center have come to rely on him for whatever situation comes up."

Cathy-Ann Tarlentino is an integral part of the 100 Deputies/100 Kids annual Christmas party, volunteering her time to help make the party a success. She has been a volunteer with the Sheriff’s Office for nine years, and has become well known for her dependability and dedication. Despite being involved in a car accident shortly before last year’s party, Tarlentino still gave the event her full attention in spite of not feeling her best.

Also honored at the Tuesday award ceremony were the Sheriff’s Office’s Employees of the 4th Quarter, 2007. Receiving awards were deputy Glen Bennett, investigator Sergeant Erik Eagan, civilian employee Catherine McCullough, telecommunicator Claudine Harrell and volunteer Tarlentino.

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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