Public Information Officer
Note: Please see photo attachment of Sheriff Johnson posing with his top-performing employees of the year. Pictured in the photo, from left to right, are: investigator Jerry Betz, Sheila Horne, Patrick Harding, Sheriff Johnson, deputy Mike Webb and Robert Ham.
Four fulltime employees and a volunteer were selected Tuesday as the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s top workers in 2006. 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. "It takes a great deal of dedication and hard work to earn these awards," said Sheriff Johnson. "All five of these individuals represent the very highest standards of professionalism and public service. Their recognition is well-deserved."
Deputy of the Year honors went to K-9 handler Mike Webb. Webb and his K-9 partner, Ike, are always on hand, with Webb constantly scanning his police radio and responding to scenes even before the call for K-9 backup goes out. Webb earned high praise for his high number of K-9 apprehensions and for going above and beyond in ensuring that the agency’s K-9 units are well trained. "We appreciate everything you do for the citizens of Volusia County," said Sheriff Johnson.
Jerry Betz was named Investigator of the Year for demonstrating an amazing work ethic while bringing to justice two felons who sexually battered several teens through violence and intimidation. Both cases presented significant challenges, but Betz’ determination won out in the end. One case involved a 32-year-old man who used a gang-like mentality to force girls as young as 14 to have sex with him. Betz faced the challenge of breaking through the distrust of law enforcement and the gang-like protection of the defendant, but he eventually locked the man up for 20 years. Betz also successfully tracked down a juvenile who had burglarized a home and then sexually battered a 14-year-old girl. During the investigation, it was discovered that another girl was also victimized. Betz’ diligence led to six arrest warrants and a 40-year sentence for the defendant.
Patrick Harding was named Telecommunicator of the Year. Working out of the Sheriff’s Office’s Fire/EMS Communications Center, Harding is considered an excellent and highly reliable employee who helped smooth the transition following recent upgrades at the center. Harding even came in on his days off and worked from his home to make sure everything went smoothly. "He is an excellent example of a star county employee and public servant to the citizens and is worthy of recognition for his efforts," said his supervisor, Debbie Smith.
Civilian Employee of the Year honors went to tradesworker Robert Ham, a jack-of-all-trades who was recognized for his unswerving devotion to maintaining the Sheriff’s Office’s marine and SWAT equipment. Sheriff Johnson noted that Ham has saved the department thousands of dollars by taking on painting and maintenance projects himself. He also made the extra effort to obtain the licensing required to drive the trucks used to transport SWAT equipment. Ham arrives to work early, stays late and is widely known by nearly everyone in the Sheriff’s Office as the man to go to when something needs fixing. "I’ve never seen a craftsman of his caliber," said Sheriff Johnson. "He has done a truly masterful job."
Sheila Horne earned praise as the Volunteer of the Year. Horne is the Citizen Observer Program director for District 5 and volunteered more than 339 hours in just one quarter. C.O.P. volunteers patrol neighborhoods to deter crime and act as an extra set of eyes and ears for the law enforcement community. As a director, she keeps track of 34 C.O.P.s, the maintenance of two vehicles, scheduling patrols and a lot of other administrative duties. Even with so many responsibilities, she devoted yet more time and effort to create a C.O.P. Honor Guard that will represent the agency when a C.O.P. member passes away and at community functions. "You’re always there for us," said Sheriff Johnson. "We really love having you work with us."
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