Public Information Officer
They represent the very best in dedication and commitment to public service. This week, Sheriff Ben Johnson and his top administrators honored the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s four top-performing employees of 2005. The awards went to deputy Bobby Blackwell, investigator Steve White, staff assistant Melissa Nutall and volunteer Kenneth Gilliland. The group was honored at an awards ceremony Tuesday in Daytona Beach. “All four of these individuals represent the highest standards of professionalism,” Sheriff Johnson said. “They go above and beyond in all that they do, and their recognition is well-deserved.”
As with any law enforcement agency, the quality of the training is one of the most critical success factors at the Sheriff’s Office. Selected as deputy of the year, Blackwell is a key component of the department’s successful in-house training program. Blackwell coordinates the agency’s FTEP, or field training and evaluation program. FTEP is a grueling, in-house training program that all new deputy recruits must complete before getting their job assignment. As a U.S. Army retiree with 17 years of law enforcement experience before coming to the Sheriff’s Office, Blackwell’s command presence sets the standard for every new officer who comes into the agency.
White was named investigator of the year, in part, for his investigation of a sexual abuse case that resulted in a conviction and 50-year sentence for the culprit. The case, which involved a teenage girl who suffered through years of abuse, was initially hampered by a lack of physical evidence due to the time that had elapsed since the abuse ended. Still, White managed to seize incriminating evidence during the investigation, including e-mail messages and photographs downloaded onto a computer. “You took a case that didn’t have anywhere to go and brought it to a successful resolution,” said Sheriff Johnson. “It shows your tenacity for solving cases, and you make us all proud.”
Nutall, a staff assistant in the Sheriff’s Office’s court services unit, was named civilian employee of the year. Nutall’s supervisors say she’s enthusiastic, dedicated and adds a touch of professional pride to everything she does. In addition to her regular duties, Nutall also helped to coordinate a successful charity campaign for the American Heart Association. “She’s a loyal employee who doesn’t hesitate in offering her assistance to all Volusia County Sheriff’s Office employees, even when it’s out of her area of responsibility,” said her supervisor, Lieutenant Ray Almodovar.
Gilliland, the volunteer of the year, volunteers at the Sheriff’s Office’s District 5 headquarters in New Smyrna Beach, assisting the front desk receptionist and updating the district’s sexual offender binder. He also files field contact cards and transports items to the dump for disposal. “We couldn’t provide all of these services to the public without the help of our volunteers,” said Sheriff Johnson. “Kenneth Gilliland is one of the very best.”