Public Information Office
Dedication to serving the county’s citizens is the theme connecting the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Employees of the 1st Quarter 2009 winners. There is a high level of professionalism and expertise exhibited by the five deputies and civilians honored by Sheriff Ben Johnson during a ceremony at the Deputy Stephen Saboda Training Center in Daytona Beach Tuesday morning. Awards were presented to a patrol deputy, an auto theft investigator, an office assistant, a telecommunicator, and a firearms range volunteer.
Criminals in the Pierson area don’t stand a chance when deputy of the quarter Todd Smith is on duty. Not only is his supervisor impressed with the deputy’s crime solving tenacity, but so are the local residents. Smith eagerly takes the initiative in all cases no matter how big or small, and he’s earned the residents’ respect and gratitude as a result. This patrol deputy worked alongside investigators to help solve 11 cases in short order primarily due to old fashioned footwork and a tireless devotion to the job. Approximately once a month an area in Pierson was hit with a rash of vandalisms. Smith tracked down the suspects and obtained confessions, clearing several cases. In a separate instance, Smith investigated a residential burglary and had the suspects identified, charged and the victim’s property returned in under four hours. The community knows that Smith will always do his best to solve whatever problem that comes up.
The burglary victim wrote a thank you letter to Sheriff Johnson, saying: “I don’t know where you found Deputy Smith, but please go back and get 20 more just like him. He is the perfect example of professionalism.”
Investigator Todd Blair has developed a solid reputation as an expert in auto theft investigations not just in Volusia County but countrywide, which has now earned him the additional distinction of investigator of the quarter. Blair has worked in the Sheriff’s Office’s auto theft unit for 11 years and is in charge of the motorcycle anti-theft task force during all of the motorcycle special events in the area. Blair’s experience, professionalism and superb attention to detail are key ingredients in the successful reduction of motorcycle thefts. Blair is so well respected in the auto theft investigation community that he is currently the vice president of the Florida Auto Theft Intelligence Unit, immediate past-president of the Southeast International Association of Auto Theft Investigators and an executive board member of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators.
“Todd is well known throughout the state and the entire southeast for his work and his skills,” said Sheriff Johnson.
Work in the Sheriff’s Office’s sex crimes unit can be taxing due to the nature of the crimes investigated there, but employee of the quarter Annette Cazella maintains a high degree of professionalism, dedication and creativity. Those traits make the job easier for everyone in the unit. Cazella creates case files for each new investigation, which gives the assigned investigators a valuable head start. The tasks Cazella is sometimes faced with can be daunting, such as in a case involving an alleged sexual battery of a teenage victim that produced more than 200 suspects. Cazella assembled photo lineups and background information on each person, which was time consuming and tedious work. Her creativity was on display during another case that was complicated due to the multiple victims and the suspect all being related to one another. Cazella untangled the relations through the creation of a visual family tree. The family tree was invaluable not only during the investigation but also during the prosecution phase.
“Annette is a great asset to the sex crimes unit and our job would be even harder without her,” said sergeant Cynthia Gambrell, Cazella’s supervisor.
Telecommunicator of the quarter honors went to assistant supervisor Teddy Griffin, who was singled out for his leadership, mentoring skills and ability to foster teamwork. These characteristics were put to the test recently when Griffin had to take on the responsibilities of shift supervisor along with his own assistant supervisor tasks. Griffin is known for his superior work ethic and he’s an example for others to follow.
“I’m very proud of you,” said Sheriff Johnson. “You’ve done a great job.”
Volunteer of the quarter Lee Britton started his work with the Sheriff’s Office cleaning weapons for the annual inspection, and has since become an invaluable part of the firearms range team. Britton attended various armorer’s courses over the past few years, becoming proficient in inspecting weapons and troubleshooting. Griffin assists during retired officers’ shoots, deputy refresher shoots and civilian firearms classes. His volunteer time saves the Sheriff’s Office the expense of bringing in another range officer.
“Lee is a hard worker and takes pride in his work,” said range master Robert Applegate. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is a joy to work with.”
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