Police recognize residents, officers for their work
Published: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 8:43 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 8:43 a.m.
A long list of officers and residents received a thank-you last month from the Gainesville Police Department for their work and efforts.
The police agency named those who they said had a made a difference, either through donations or work on different cases.
Many listed were officers who officials said went "above and beyond" on cases, such as Detective Randy Roberts whose work on a fraud case was tied to a federal investigation into a large theft of credit numbers with an
estimated loss of more than $25 million nationwide.
But others named were residents who took the time to provide police with information, such as three people at a downtown Gainesville business in March 2007 where a woman was attacked. Because of their help, police reported they were able to arrest a suspect eight hours after the incident.
The list of awards goes back to some cases before 2008. The police agency plans to regularly release the awards list in the future.
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE:
Officer Steve Bristow -
On Jan. 6, 2007, Bristow responded to a call reference a female calling for help. Upon arrival, he discovered that it was an in-progress sexual battery attempt. The victim, while jogging, was grabbed from behind. Even with the victim yelling and fighting, the subject threw her to the ground and attempted to remove her clothes. The suspect fled when witnesses and officers arrived. Bristow remembered driving by the area earlier and seeing a male he recognized, who matched the description given by the victim. Bristow and other responding officers located the suspect hiding in the bushes near where he lived. The victim positively identified him as her attacker, resulting in his arrest. Because of Bristow's knowledge of individuals in his zone and his ability to recall important facts, this individual will not be able to commit other crimes against women. Bristow is commended for his quick thinking and knowledge of his zone and potential offenders.
Detective Randy Roberts -
Late in 2006, Roberts was assigned a fraud investigation involving both Gainesville Wal-Mart stores, along with stores throughout Florida. Fraudulent credit cards were used to purchase gift cards and later redeemed for merchandise. At this time the loss was estimated to be $1 million. Prior to meeting with Wal-Mart security, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, various police agencies, and the U.S. Secret Service, Roberts identified five suspects from the Miami area and eventually identified and charged 10 people. Due to the scope of this investigation, the Office of the Attorney General, Statewide Prosecutor in Jacksonville, adopted the case. The Secret Service felt the investigation may be tied to a federal investigation involving a large theft of credit numbers with an estimated loss of over $25 million nationwide. In March 2007, warrants for 10 suspects were issued. Six of the 10 were apprehended almost immediately. Within two weeks, five of the six had pled to the charges. Roberts' dedication to this investigation is a credit to himself and the police department.
Cpl. Jamie Rohrbaugh and Lt. Mike Schibuola -
In February 2007, Schibuola and Rohrbaugh were reassigned from their permanent assignments to the Violent Crimes Task Force. The objective of the task force was to address the upward trend in high magnitude, violent crimes, especially robberies. During their six-month stint, the unit responded to and investigated numerous shootings, stabbings, armed robberies, home invasion robberies, weapon offenses, and violent wanted subjects. To compound their difficult mission, most offenders and many victims were involved in illicit drugs, thus creating additional hardships in the investigations. Even so, the unit had a very high clearance rate under the supervision of Schibuola and investigative expertise of Rohrbaugh. Due to their efforts, serious criminal offenders were taken off the streets. The team also identified multiple instances where robbery complainants were falsifying information for personal reasons and saw to their arrests for false reporting.
Officer Jeff Kerkau -
While on patrol during the early morning hours in August 2007, Kerkau attempted to stop a vehicle for driving without headlights. The vehicle fled and was abandoned after a short distance with the suspects fleeing into an apartment complex. The description of the occupants matched the description of the suspects of an armed robbery broadcast just seconds after Kerkau's traffic stop. Using restraint, Kerkau did not give chase on foot but maintained visual contact with the suspects. He remained with the suspect's vehicle where he located a loaded pistol and property from the robbery. With the assistance of a K-9, one of the suspects was located hiding under a vehicle near the complex. The second suspect was identified, arrested within 24 hours and also charged with armed robbery. This arrest is more noteworthy due to the fact that this was Kerkau's first night as a solo officer.
Detective John Madsen and Detective Leah Hayes -
During August 2007, Madsen was contacted by the intelligence officer of the Alachua County jail regarding the possible sexual abuse of a 6-year-old girl. A female inmate had overheard other inmates talking about a man who had a child in his motel room and had bragged about what he could have the girl do. The inmate told how the man also boasted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old in the past. The inmates were able to provide Madsen the possible name of the suspect, who they later identified from a photo line-up. Through a detailed investigation with the assistance of Hayes, Madsen was able to locate and arrest the suspect, who was ultimately charged with two counts of sexually battering a juvenile. Hayes assisted with the interviews, search warrant and court proceedings, above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the safety and well being of a child.
Officer Mose Rochelle -
On Oct. 4, 2007, the Criminal Investigations Division was investigating an incident in which a suspect had struck a victim's head with a gun that then went off. The suspect was a known violent offender, who was also believed to be involved in a recent home invasion robbery. CID obtained an arrest warrant, and the suspect went into hiding. The following day, Rochelle arrested a subject for trespassing at a local business. Rochelle was able to gain information from the subject about where the wanted suspect was hiding. Rochelle and members of the Tactical Impact Unit surrounded the apartment where it was believed the suspect was hiding. Rochelle was able to utilize his relationship with the community to get permission from the resident to search her apartment. He located the suspect hiding in an attic and was able to talk the suspect out of the attic so he could be arrested without incident.
Cpl. Tim Durst -
On Nov. 11, 2007, a man entered the Kangaroo convenience store on University Avenue. He approached the counter as if to make a purchase and handed the clerk a hold-up note. The clerk complied and the man took his note and fled. The clerk called 911 and gave a description of the suspect. As he was responding to the scene, Durst quickly set up a perimeter and moments later found a subject matching the description. The suspect was with another man and his clothing was different. Only his sex and race matched. Durst detained the extremely nervous man. He knew the suspect had taken back the note and diligently searched the area. Nearby, he located a prescription form written to the subject. Written on the back was, "I have a gun. Give me your money." The individual was arrested and found to have all of the store's money in his pockets. The man confessed and showed officers where he discarded his clothing after the robbery. Durst's tactics, discoveries and investigation established probable cause to arrest the subject.
Officer Brett Robison –
Early in 2008, Robison responded to an armed robbery at Subway. Once a report of a be-on-the-lookout was given, he observed the vehicle coming out of an apartment complex and initiated a traffic stop. The suspect was detained. A search of the vehicle revealed a BB gun, cash, and dark clothing. Robison's actions led to the clearance of 11 other armed robberies dating back to May 2006. The suspect had been dubbed "the polite bandit." The suspect would not have been linked or captured without Robison's work. The suspect had no Florida criminal record and had never had any contacts with GPD since moving here January 2006. He was completely off the radar screen. Due to Robison's attention to details, the Gainesville community is a safer place to live.
CAPITAL CITY BANK CASE:
On Dec. 11, 2007, four subjects attempted to enter the Capital City Bank, 4040 NW 16th Ave. Upon finding the bank closed and the door locked, the masked, gloved, and armed subjects retreated to their vehicle and fled the area. A witness recorded the tag and called the communication center with the information.
Award of Excellence:
Sgt. Kevin Trahan and Officer Charles Owens –
Responding to the call, Trahan and Owens conducted a search of the area and located someone hiding in the thicket. With the assistance of K-9 Buck, the suspect was persuaded to come out and was subsequently arrested.
Distinctive Service Award:
Sgt. Paul Forsberg, Officer David Schramek, Officer Brett Kikendall and Detective Robert Kennedy –
Forsberg located the suspects' vehicle and attempted to make a traffic stop. When the vehicle ignored his lights and sirens and fled, Forsberg pursued the vehicle south through a Subdivision. Kennedy took a position as the secondary pursuit vehicle. This pursuit occurred during rush hour on Newberry Road. Forsberg and Kennedy did a superb job of giving directions while avoiding collisions with the suspects' vehicle and civilian vehicles. When the suspects' vehicle stopped, all four subjects fled. Kikendall gave chase on foot, tackled and arrested two of the subjects. These two subjects were turned over to Forsberg. A resident came running from her home and said one subject was inside. Schramek and K-9 Buck entered the house and were able to apprehend the subject.
Outstanding Unit Citation:
Cpl. Duane Diehl, Officer Brett Traywick, Officer Kathy Bruce, Cpl. Mike Knezevich, Officer Derek Tirado, Officer Scott Ferrel, Officer Keith Carlisle, Officer Elgin Saxon, Officer David Lepianka, Officer Jeff McAdams, Cpl. Angelina Bostick, Sgt. Joe Raulerson, Officer Heather Stroich, Cpl. Steve Girard, Cpl. Mike West, Officer Fritz Munn, Officer Shawn McNiff, Sgt. Jorge Campos, Lt. Matt Nechodom –
Through coordination and dedication to duty, responding officers worked together to strategically pursue, and apprehend all four of the suspects without causing injury to themselves or citizens in the area.
Police Service Award:
Sonya Johnson, Brianna Kelley and Mary Edward –
Dispatchers Johnson, Kelley and Edward maintained radio integrity and remained calm and professional while informing officers of the subjects descriptions and direction of travel. Officers were able to make timely arrests of the four suspects due in part to the expert dispatching of the call.
January 2007 - Lynn Labauve
Beginning Jan. 13, 2007, and the days following, Gainesville police received five reports of sexual batteries. Labauve and Officer Shannon Wallace-Giles worked in conjunction to provide a residential security forum for the College Park community.
February 2007 - AJ Moore, Corey Bryan, Albert Wells and Michelle Summers
On Feb. 20, 2007, Officer Heather Stroich stopped a vehicle being driven by a wanted person. When the driver bailed from the car, Moore, Bryan, Wells and Summers were able to provide officers with the suspect's direction of travel which led to the suspect's eventual apprehension.
March 2007 - Sidney Green Johnson Jr., Rhiannon Johnson and Miles Mathia
On March 9, 2007, a woman was attacked and sustained a severe cut to her throat while working at French Addiction, 819 W. University Ave. Sidney Johnson, Rhiannon Johnson and Mathia all provided vital information of the suspect to detectives, leading to the suspect's arrest eight hours after the attack.
August 2007 - Latonya Bryant
On Aug, 23, 2007, detectives were investigating a burglary at Thompson's Furniture, 2325 SW 13th St., where the front plate glass window had been smashed. There was blood at the scene where it was believed that the suspect had sustained some type of injury. Bryant, a city bus driver, provided officers information about one of her passengers who boarded the bus covered in blood. This information solved this burglary as well two others.
September 2007 - John Sanchez
Off-duty city of Green Acres police Officer John Sanchez was visiting Gainesville when he noticed an older male in the parking lot of a book store trying door handles of several different vehicles. Sanchez approached the male, later identified as Alzheimer's patient John Hines. Sanchez's contact with Hines led to the reunification with his wife, and kept Hines from potential danger.
October 2007 - Meredith Mc Gaughey, Megan McGaughey, Andrea Buchanan, Max Rudolf, Andrew Booth and Jonathan Alonso
On Oct. 9, 2007, sisters Meredith and Megan McGaughey, Buchanan, Rudolf, Booth and Alonso all played integral roles in preventing the sexual battery of a young woman as well as detaining the suspect until law enforcement arrival.
November 2007 - Christopher Carboni
On Nov. 9, 2007, officers were responding to 2202 NW 27th Terrace in reference to a residential burglary. Carboni, a Gainesville Regional Utilities meter reader, provided a detailed description of the suspects and well as the vehicle and tag to officers. This information led to the arrest of the two suspects.
December 2007 - Joshua Newman and Suzanne Baldwin
On Dec. 11, 2007, four suspects attempted to rob the Capital City Bank located at 4040 NW 16th Ave. Newman and Baldwin provided officers with detailed suspect descriptions as well as information about the suspects' locations. Without their information, four bank robbers may have eluded apprehension.
On Dec. 21, 2007, White was participating in a ride along with Officer Justin Poirot. Poirot responded to assist Officer Steve Bristow. The officers got into a strenuous physical altercation with the suspect. When asked to help White aided the officers without hesitation, despite damage to his personal property and contamination of pepper spray.
January 2008 - Robert Weaver
On Jan. 17, 2008, Weaver observed a suspicious male on a bicycle ride by his house multiple times. He then observed the suspect attempting to gain entry to his neighbor's house. Weaver called 911 and was able to give officers information as to the suspect's description and direction of travel. This information allowed officers to locate the suspect in the area and make the arrest.
On Jan. 31, 2008, the Special Investigations Division (Narcotics) became aware of a parcel being mailed from Jamaica to Gainesville, which contained approximately one half kilo of powdered cocaine. Contact was made with Lacko, who was the local delivery company office and manager. He immediately offered his assistance. Lacko's assistance allowed narcotics detectives to make multiple arrests, seize large amounts of narcotics and money. Lacko's cooperation with detectives kept large amounts of drugs and drug dealers off the street.
March 2008 - Jon Bryan Burton
Scott David Langford
On March 7, 2008, officers were dispatched to the Bank of America located at 2815 NW 13th St. in reference to a suspect attempting to cash a stolen check. Officers arrived and made contact with the suspect at which time she began to physically resist. Burton assisted the officer in handcuffing the suspect.
On March 28, 2008, officers were dispatched to the pool area of Westside Park in reference to a burglary. Officers gave chase to suspects. Seeing that officers needed assistance, Langford left his softball game and was able to detain one of the suspects until law enforcement arrival.
April 2008 - Nina and Derick Cruce
- Pascale Spears and Jim Sajczuk
On April 4, 2008 Derick and Nina Cruce phoned 911 when they observed a suspect burglarize their neighbor's garage. Officers arrived a few minutes later and arrested the suspect. It was learned that the same individual had also been arrested in March for burglarizing a home in Jacksonville. Thanks to the assistance of the Cruces, the victim did not loose any property.
Spears, who is the building manager, and Sajczuk, the loss prevention and communications manager, both with Nordstrom Southern States Distribution Center, opened up their facility several times over the past year to the police department. Spears and Sajczuk allowed for the GPD SWAT team, the Joint Aviation Unit and Promotional Assessment Center to use the Nordstrom facility, therefore embracing the concept of community oriented policing by partnering with the law enforcement agency and improving the quality of life for Gainesville citizens.
May 2008 - Craig Robert Hedgecock
On May 9, 2008, a suspect entered the Wachovia bank on W. University Avenue brandishing a silver firearm. The suspect jumped over the bank tellers' counter and demanded money. Hedgecock witnessed the events from the bank's drive through. Hedgecock called 911 and was able to provide a detailed account of the suspect's actions, which led to the apprehension of the bank robber.
July 2008 - Sandi Dupree
On July 22, 2008, Cpl. Stephen Girard attempted to stop a vehicle for a traffic infraction. The suspect drove into The Oaks Mall parking lot and then fled on foot. Dupree notified officers that she saw the suspect run into a restaurant. Dupree's observations pointed officers in the right direction and led to the arrest of the suspect.
DISTINCTIVE SERVICE AWARD:
Cpl. Courtnay Roberts, Officer Robert Gebhardt, Officer Doug Williams, Cpl. Jaime Kurnick, and Sgt. John Klement - On July, 2, 2006, officers responded to an extremely dangerous situation and without hesitation, stopped a vehicle containing four potentially armed suspects who had just opened fire in a crowded nightclub and wounded several subjects. Kurnick positioned her police horse in front of the vehicle and drew her duty weapon, Gebhardt and Roberts, also with weapons drawn, gave loud verbal commands to the four occupants to stop the vehicle and put their hands up. Gebhardt reached inside the vehicle after the driver failed to comply with verbal commands, put the vehicle in park, and turned off the ignition while Roberts provided cover. Williams and Klement approached the vehicle from the passenger side and assisted in the felony stop of the vehicle. The stop and subsequent apprehension of the occupants led to the arrest of all four subjects for murder and weapons-related charges.
Officer Jaron Griffin and Officer Sam Delucca -
While responding to an armed disturbance Griffin and Delucca gained suspect description and direction of travel, enabling them to locate the suspect vehicle. The subjects attempted to flee on foot. Knowing they may be armed, Delucca approached and wrestled one suspect to the ground while the second attempted to retrieve a loaded revolver from the vehicle. Seeing this as a serious threat, Griffin physically wrestled the subject away from the gun. The officers were able to enact arrests prior to escalation to deadly force. Upon investigation, it was determined that one of the subjects had just committed an aggravated assault, carrying a concealed firearm, burglary, battery, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting an officer with violence, resisting an officer without violence, and criminal mischief. Delucca and Griffin risked their lives and demonstrated bravery, good tactics, and excellent restraint while apprehending a violent criminal.
Detective Mike Denmark –
On Jan. 7, 2008, Denmark was called upon to assist with a fleeing suspect who had been involved in starting a campfire with other area transients and had now become belligerent and armed himself with a knife. By responding quickly and having thorough knowledge of the area, Denmark was able to position himself to intercept the suspect. The suspect proceeded to run in an effort to elude but, because the subject was armed and a danger to the public, Denmark advised on the radio he was in pursuit. Denmark demonstrated his commitment to physical fitness by chasing down the suspect and was able to cover the suspect with his duty weapon while continuing with verbal instruction to drop the knife. Denmark put himself at risk in order to maintain a position that kept the public safe. Due to Denmark's verbal skills, the suspect was ultimately taken into custody and the citizens were protected.
Sgt. Greg Armagost, Sgt. Rick Roberts, Cpl. Tim Durst and K-9 Grady, Officer Tim Loveall, and Alachua County Sheriff's Deputy Rebecca Butscher -
Armagost, Roberts, Durst and K-9 Grady, Loveall, and Butscher responded to an apartment about a subject who had set the apartment on fire and was refusing to open the door. Officers were able to get a key from management. However, once the door was opened, the suspect began throwing objects to keep them from entering. Once entry was gained, the officers were confronted with a still combative subject who continued to resist the efforts to allow fire rescue to extinguish the fire and dissipate the hazardous smoke. The suspect barricaded himself in a bedroom, forcing Officers to break through the door after which they found a loaded shotgun. Once in the room, the subject struck officers, including K-9 Grady, before being brought under control. It was discovered that the suspect had placed an aerosol can on the stove, attempting to create an explosion. The subject was transported to the hospital for medical treatment. The efforts of these officers possibly saved the suspect's life and the lives of others living in adjacent apartments.
Lt. Wayne Ash, Sgt. Greg Armagost and Cpl. Shelton McKinzie -
Ash, Armagost, and McKinzie responded to the front of the Veterans Affairs hospital in reference to a subject holding a lighter, gas can, and a pocketknife. The subject's knife was open and he had cut himself several times in the chest area. McKinzie attempted to negotiate, but the subject was not receptive. The individual continued escalating efforts to harm people in the area, himself, and the building by pouring gas on the ground and gesturing as if he were going to ignite it. With the subject near a plate glass window and the rising probability of injury to all involved, the officers needed quick but safe action in order to detain the subject. Ash cleared the area as Armagost deployed less lethal rounds targeted at the subject's right shoulder and chest area. With two shots, the subject dropped his weapons and fell face down. He was then secured and turned over to medical staff. Through courage and communication, no permanent injuries or damage was sustained.
MEDAL OF VALOR:
Officer Nick Byrd -
On July 19, 2008, Byrd responded to a disturbance call. While en route, he learned the suspect was intoxicated and had made entry to his girlfriend's locked apartment. Byrd arrived on scene, he observed that the suspect's girlfriend had barricaded herself and her son in her bedroom while the suspect continuously rammed the door from the outside. Byrd entered and cleared the residence as he moved toward the suspect announcing his presence. The suspect turned, revealing a steak knife, and immediately lunged at Byrd who fired two shots into the suspect's chest. The suspect dropped to the ground where he was disarmed and handcuffed by officers. Byrd quickly requested emergency medical service and retrieved his medical kit. From beginning to end, Byrd exemplified how a police officer should handle such an intense situation. The suspect survived and all involved were protected due to Byrd's heroic decisiveness and skill.
Officer Dan Surrency -
On May 22, 2007, Surrency was dispatched to an occupied residential burglary in progress wherein the homeowner had barricaded herself and a houseguest in the bathroom. Surrency responded quickly and upon reaching the home, drew his pistol and began checking the exterior. After ascertaining the point of entry, Surrency concluded that the suspect was inside and consequently the lives of the victims were in danger. He then entered, located the suspect, and announced his presence by ordering the suspect to place his hands on his head. When the suspect refused, back up was called. Surrency was charged twice but was able to push back the assailant. On the third attempt, the suspect went for Surrency's weapon. Believing the suspect may be successful on the fourth charge, Surrency fired one round into the attacking suspect's chest. Surrency maintained controlled, which lead to the subduing of the suspect and protection of the victims and himself.
Officer John O'Ferrell -
O'Ferrell was monitoring his police radio while en route to begin work in computer services when he heard emergency traffic regarding a pursuit. The suspect had committed acts of aggravated assault with his vehicle and was operating it in a dangerous manner when initial efforts to stop it were terminated and a be-on-the-lookout was released. O'Ferrell caught sight of the vehicle and as soon as it came to a stop he approached and ordered the driver to exit. The suspect then accelerated directly at O'Ferrell in an attempt to run him over. These actions put everyone around in immediate danger. O'Ferrell was forced to act quickly and decisively by deploying his duty weapon to defend himself and those around him. Another officer also opened fire, but the suspect was able to strike O'Ferrell and send him onto the vehicle's hood. The car eventually stopped against a nearby building where the suspect was found deceased. O'Ferrell valiantly risked his life to ensure the safety of those around him.
OUTSTANDING UNIT CITATION:
Cpl. Roger Crase, Detective Ferrah Lormil, Detective Lorraine Fair, Sgt. Don Geelhoed, Cpl. Bill Quirk, Detective Kim Edwardson, Detective Jeff Dorminey -
District detectives from all three districts were voluntary reassigned to the Investigations Bureau for a period of approximately one month in December 2006 and January 2007 in order work almost exclusively on a skyrocketing robbery and violent crime problem plaguing Gainesville. This group still maintained responsibilities for all other regular assignments including normal, heavy case loads, administrative assignments, and training. This reassignment also allowed almost the entire Investigations Division to focus on a double homicide and previous unsolved homicide, which ordinarily would not have been the case. The reassigned Robbery District Detective Group was incredibly effective in apprehension, solving, and following up on existing leads beyond expectations of supervisors. This group is commended for their efforts.
David Duda, Johnny Dang, Chad Griffin, Officer John O'Ferrell and Melyssa Henagen -
During recent years, the amount of billable overtime has risen dramatically, making it difficult to manage in a fair and equitable way. Administrative staff spent three years of research and trial and error to develop a paper system. Recognizing the need to automate, vendors were contacted but were unable to create a program to meet departmental needs. The Information Technology Unit was asked for their assistance. Within four months, the IT staff created a program, tested it and had it online, allowing Officers to sign up for overtime. The IT staff has continued to update and adjust the program so additional functions can be recognized. For the first time, supervisors can pull up rosters to determine who is working and where. Officers can view their assignments to make sure they are on time, and available overtime is always on the screen to encourage officers to sign up. According to IT Staff, this program would have cost the department around $200,000 dollars.
Gainesville Police Explorers and Cadets: Officer Jamie Stubbs, Explorer Chief Chris Armada, Capt. Willie Adams, Sgt. Horace mcKelvin, Sgt. James Brigman, Cpl. Jermy Sanders, Cpl. Jason Green, Cpl. Alex Armada, Explorer Ben Bressack, Lyria Cain-Allen, Danielle Clark, Wayne Cooper, Chris Jones, Isaac Joseph, Tramell Richardson, Denise Thomas, Willie Williamson -
Thousands of people flock to Gainesville's Hoggtowne Medeival Faire every year. The Gainesville Police Department is faced with the job of getting cars parked in a way that will lead to quick departures and happy patrons. The daunting task of coordinating these vehicles takes timing and a strong work ethic. Gainesville Police Explorers and Cadets assigned to assist sworn officers this year demonstrated enthusiasm and zeal throughout with the flow of traffic affording them no breaks. The dedication shown in helping the community with all their needs led to safety and the organization required for such a large event to go smoothly. Thanks to the Explorers and Cadets, people were greeted with smiles, questions were answered, and cars were parked securely. They are a credit to the Gainesville Police Department and the community they serve.
Sgt. John Klement, Lt. Scott Meffen Sr., Officer Derek Tirado, Officer Martin Honeycutt, Police Service Technician Becky Wilson, Debbie Butler and Karen Billings -
With the Butler Plaza annexation scheduled for June 1, 2008, Klement, the zone sergeant, took the lead proactively and assembled a GPD Butler Area Orientation Team. Meetings were conducted with Billings, the city strategic planning manager, to put together extensive orientation packets, coordinated mapping and face-to-face contacts with approximately 95 businesses. Efforts by team members Meffen, Tirado, Honeycutt, and Wilson were extensive, thorough and time consuming. Their work was collectively so impressive that individual kudos and compliments were received from Butler enterprises officials, individual businesses and the city manager. Further, an overall city planning meeting recognized that the GPD orientation team had done excellent work in advance. While the Orientation Team was part-time, it was voluntary and in addition to normal work assignments.
POLICE SERVICE AWARD:
Maureen Daigle-Watson, owner of Claudia's Paws & Claws -
Since opening for business in January 2001, Claudia's Paws and Claws, 2028 NW 6th St., has volunteered the use of their facilities to the agency's K-9 Unit. Each unit member holds a key to the business and is allowed to utilize the bathing and grooming equipment at no cost. This generous donation of facilities and products saves the limited funds in the K-9 budget and allows for the purchase of necessary training equipment and supplies. It also allows the members of the K-9 unit to quickly bathe and groom their dogs, thus providing more K-9 availability to the citizens of Gainesville. It is with great appreciation that the agency recognizes Claudia's Paws and Claws.
Dennis and Mary Beth Budam, Stephen and Stephanie O'Grady and Jerry Owens -
The K-9 Unit is an integral part of the Gainesville Police Department. Through the generous donation of Dennis and Mary Beth Buda, Stephen and Stephanie O'Grady and Owens, the department has been able to add valuable K-9 partners to the force and continue to provide an essential service to residents. The police dog allows for a safer working environment for the officers and for the apprehension of serious offenders. The canine also allows the police department to continue with community relations projects such as public education and demonstrations. The monetary assistance of the Budas, the O'Gradys and Owens has served to effectively enhance the safety of the entire Gainesville community.
Officer Ben Tobias -
While recovering from an injury, Tobias was assigned to the Property and Evidence Unit for approximately four months from April to August 2007. He assisted the unit by looking up information in order to send evidence releases to the State Attorney's Office. During the time assigned, 2,536 release requests were sent to the State Attorney's Office, resulting in the destruction of approximately 6,500 pieces of evidence, a task that would have taken Property and Evidence personnel a year to accomplish. Tobias also assisted in the reorganizing of the DNA freezer by creating a spreadsheet listing all the cases having DNA extracts, as well as the actual reorganization of the interior of the freezer. Additionally, he created a new State Attorney evidence release request form based on information received from the State Attorney's Office. Tobias' diligence and innovation are great assets to the Gainesville Police Department.
Thomas Rahn -
In March 2007, Officer John Sprague was arresting a subject for theft at the Gainesville Regional Airport. The individual resisted and a struggle continued for an extended period of time, even with a backup officer responding. Rahn, a Fox Security Officer at the airport, saw the situation and assisted officers by securing the man's legs and feet and holding them to enable the officers to get the man handcuffed and secured. This quick intervention, without regard for his own safety, allowed officers to bring an end to a situation that may have easily had a bad outcome. Rahn's willingness to assist law enforcement officers is commended. His actions to ensure the public's safety at the terminal is a testament to his personal character.
Officer Rob Concannon -
In late October 2007, Concannon received information from a female victim regarding a suspect that she observed masturbating in the area several times. The victim advised the suspect had been consistently coming to her window where she worked at about 6:00 AM on a weekly basis. Concannon took it upon himself to watch the area and found a suspect who fit the description given by the victim. He soon after observed the suspect masturbating at the location. Concannon was able to make an arrest without incident. Concannon is recognized for his exemplary performance in initiating and solving one of many problems without direction from his superiors.
Julian McCoy, John Alexander and Caleb Young –
A suspect was arrested after investigation revealed he had entered the United Children Daycare, 1734 SE Hawthorne Road, by climbing up and through a window. The owner of the business was entering the front door and observed the man running down the hall and out the back door of the business. Witnesses McCoy, Alexander and Young, who are Reichert House employees, gave chase and detained the suspect, who admitted to using a steel spatula to pry open a locked office inside the business. The owner reported that money has been missing lately from this same office. With the assistance of these three, this crime was solved in a timely manner.
Cpl. Audrey Mazzuca -
Throughout the past three years, Mazzuca has contributed generous amounts of her own time and resources to the needy children of Village/ Forest Green Apartments. She has continuously collected and contributed clothing for them and in December 2007, she began a female mentoring program there. By taking proactive measures, Mazzuca has given the girls a role model and an outlet to discuss the issues and struggles they are facing. She organizes activities for the girls and puts together an ice cream social, which over 100 children attended in December 2007. In the same month, Mazzuca teamed up with on-site social services to hold a winter clothes drive for both the children and adults of the apartment complex. Mazzuca has volunteered herself and been a positive example to children throughout the community.
Special Agent Lawrence Perez –
In February 2008, Betty Gail Hudson entered the Wachovia bank on Newberry Road. She displayed a revolver and gave a black tote bag to the tellers. Perez, an Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco special agent, was in line behind Hudson and observed her pointing the handgun at the tellers. Upon seeing what was happening, he drew his firearm, verbally identified himself as a law enforcement officer and ordered Hudson to put her firearm down and lay on the ground. Perez then took Hudson into custody and waited for the arrival police officers. Hudson is a suspect in at least three additional bank robberies in Marion County. Due to Perez's quick action, this robbery was prevented. His actions were done in such a way that did not cause harm to any bank employees, citizens in the bank, himself or the suspect.
Willie Adams -
As of January 2008, Adams, a former Police Explorer, was accepted into the cadet program and began duel enrollment at Hawthorne High School and Santa Fe Community College. As the valedictorian of his class, he was selected to receive the Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce scholarship, along with two additional scholarships. He has been selected to receive the Hawthorne High School Hall of Fame Award. During his four years as a Police Explorer, Adams excelled in all areas and achieved the rank of captain during that time. Over that period, he gained over 800 community service hours, inspiring other Explorers and his peers. When a shopper left her purse in a shopping cart in the parking lot, Adams discovered it and turned it in. When the citizen returned to collect the purse, she spoke to Adams and offer a reward, which he would not accept, saying "it was the right thing to do." Adams' integrity and pride reflects his character and is commended by the Gainesville Police Department.
Cpl. Fernando Zaragoza -
On April 4, 2007, officers were dispatched to a suspicious incident in Meadowcrest apartments. It was discovered that a distraught mother had loaded her four children in her van and drove off threatening to kill herself and her children. As a member of the Negotiation Response Team, Zaragoza was called in and was able to establish phone contact with the woman. After a lengthy conversation, Zaragoza convinced the woman to meet him at a gas station on NE 39th Avenue so they could finish the conversation in person. The woman was eventually involuntarily placed under a Backer Act and her children were found untouched and unharmed in the vehicle. This incident had the potential for tragedy for the four children, all under the age of 12. It was later learned that the woman was off her medication and needed psychological attention. Zaragoza handled this event with respect and sensitivity under very chaotic circumstances. His actions possibly saved five lives – the mother and the four children.
Cpl. Michael West –
While off duty and having lunch with his wife on May 23, 2008, West observed a man fall over clutching his throat in obvious distress. Seeing the man choking, West ran over, picked him up and performed the Heimlich maneuver. The airway obstruction was dislodged, and he was able breathe again. Paramedics responded and he was deemed OK. Because of West's quick actions, tragedy was averted and the man's life was saved.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article