Each year, we recognize the agency members who excelled the previous year. We have several award categories, and we name our Deputy Sheriff, Detention Deputy, Civilian, Reserve, and Volunteer members of the year. This year’s ceremony was held on Thursday, May 18, 2017, at Lake Eva Banquet Hall in Haines City, Florida. We’d like to thank all of our sponsors for making this event possible. Please join us in congratulating these very deserving award recipients!
Grady Judd, Sheriff
Members of the Year
Congratulations to the following agency members who were nominated for and who were named Member of the Year 2016:
In 2016, Audio-Visual Production Manager Matt Costine produced 140 videos and logged over 1,300 video production hours on projects ranging from the agency’s annual awards ceremony, to producing training and education videos, public service announcements, public presentations, and jail crime stoppers videos. Matt is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Sheriff’s News Network system agency wide; A/V systems at the SOC; sound, video, and lighting at all news conferences; live streaming and posting news conferences from the SOC; maintaining the agency’s YouTube channel, production of the monthly Jail Crime stoppers video; and providing the news media with video b-roll of news worthy operations and arrests. He
has demonstrated exceptional performance of duty by contributing materially to the success of agency through increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of its internal and external messaging, and has significantly enhanced the agency’s public image as a result of his skill, hard work, and professionalism.
In November 2016, these two deputies responded to a home in Lakeland to assist a woman who was trying to get her adult son to leave her home. She told dispatchers her son had barricaded himself inside his bedroom, and he had access to weapons. While the two responding deputies (Smith and Del Valle) approached the bedroom door, they heard gunfire outside. The son had sneaked out of his window, walked around to the front of the home, and shot his mother in the leg (fortunately, she survived). When the deputies ran outside, the suspect’s brother was trying to wrestle the 2 guns he had (one in each hand) away from him. The deputies were forced to eliminate the threat, and in doing so, saved the mother’s life, her other son’s life, and their own lives.
In March 2016, PCSO received a 911 call about a 5-year-old boy who was was in medical distress and not breathing. Deputy Bryant was the first unit on-scene. He quickly responded to where the victim was lying in the residence with his agency-issued AED, and immediately began administering CPR, assisted by the victim’s mother. A short time later the child began to breathe again. He was transported to the hospital, who later advised he was stable and in good condition. Deputy Bryant’s quick actions played a definitive role in this young boy’s survival.
In November 2016, while enroute to Bartow High School, Deputy Green saw an unresponsive male lying on the ground with a bicycle on top of him. Deputy Green stopped to render aid and determined he did not have a pulse and was not breathing. He immediately requested an ambulance and grabbed his agency-issued AED, and began CPR, until the man regained a pulse and began to breathe. Deputy Green were talked with the victim and kept him calm until an ambulance arrived. Polk County Battalion Chief Gonzalez of Polk County Fire Rescue advised Deputy Green that his life-saving efforts are the reason the victim survived.
Medals of Valor
Medals of Valor are presented to the member who displays bravery or heroism above and beyond the call of duty. This conduct shall occur in life-saving, life-protecting situations for the members placed at risk. The act must demonstrate professional judgement which does not jeopardize the mission.
Aviation Supervisor Deputy Sheriff Rob Gray
In June 2016, Deputy Pilot Gray assisted the Bartow Police Department during a search for a stolen vehicle where the suspect pointed a firearm at the victim after he pursued and caught up to it. Deputy Gray followed the stolen vehicle in the helicopter and relayed the position to the ground units. He was providing ground units with updated information on the suspect’s location when the suspect pointed a semi-automatic pistol at the helicopter and began to fire. Deputy Gray was able to perform evasive maneuvers with the helicopter, which prevented it from being struck by the gunshots. He continued to perform his duties after being shot at, and established a perimeter, ensuring the safety of the residents in the area. The suspect was ultimately caught.
Detectives Kyle Callihan, Joshua Dentel (WHPD), Emmanuel Figueroa (LWPD), and Jason Roldos (HCPD)
In September 2016, these members assigned to the HIDTA task force were conducting surveillance on a known drug dealer in Lakeland. When the suspect parked his car, the detectives approached on foot, and were immediately fired upon by the armed suspect. The detectives retreated to positions of cover, and returned fire, killing the suspect. The suspect had a trafficking amount of Meth in his car, along with his loaded handgun, and more drugs and stolen firearms in his house.
A Purple Heart medal is presented to a member who receives serious injuries incurred during the course of criminal apprehension or l
Life-saving efforts. Serious injury is defined as that which results in great bodily harm, or is life-threatening, or causes permanent disfigurement or disability, including those which result in paralysis.
Meritorious Service Medals
Recipients of Meritorious Service Medals shall have distinguished themselves by performing exceptional service in a duty of great responsibility of critical importance to the Sheriff’s Office. This is measured by contributing materially to the success of field or administrative operational goals. Guidelines for nominations are: substantial cost saving, increased efficiency, increased effectiveness, enhanced public image, improved safety of members, or technical innovation.
Sergeant Kimbra Wiegert
Sergeant Wiegert became the subject matter expert on the history of the old Polk County jail, and inspired other agency members to join in the effort to organize a Haunted Jail Tour for charity each year. Her idea led to one of the most successful and thrilling fundraisers that agency members and citizens look forward to each year. In 2016, the Haunted Jail Tour was open for two weekends, and raised over $16,000.
Among a myriad of other responsibilities as a supervisor in the Records Management Bureau, Jennifer McCain oversees the agency photo lab. During the fiscal year 2014-2015, Jennifer carefully evaluated the processes and equipment at the photo lab, and found significant room for improvement and cost savings.
Sergeant Jeff Bellamy & Sergeant Zoe Vizcarrondo
Sergeants Bellamy and Vizcarrondo (who was a detective at the time), were integral in solving a sexual battery case, during which an 11-year-old girl was molested and became pregnant by the suspect, who fled to a small remote town in West Central Guatemala. Through their persistence and international partnerships, the suspect was located, arrested, and extradited to Florida, where he was sentenced to life in prison.
Sergeants Bobby Kirkpatrick and Chris Lynn, Detectives Jeffrey Bradford, Robert Mateo, and Maria Sorensen
In October 2016, 4-year-old Rebecca Lewis was abducted from her family home by an unknown suspect. During the next 48 hours, this team worked around the clock and without sleep, following up leads and tracking the suspect, who was positively identified as a man named West Wild Hogs. Hogs drove the girl from Florida to Georgia and then Tennessee. PCSO investigators worked with the FBI and other agencies to have Amber Alerts issued in each state where Hogs was spotted. Thanks to these alerts, a convenience store clerk in Memphis recognized the suspect and saw him with Rebecca, and called authorities. Thanks to the relentless efforts to locate West Wild Hogs, he was taken into custody before he could harm the little girl. Rebecca was reunited with her grateful family, and Hogs indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s office and is awaiting trial on federal kidnapping charges.
Sergeants Chris Lynn, Chris Katsoulis, Chris Mason, and Detectives Chris Broadhead, Jeff Clark, James Hall, and Tonya Wright
In January 2016, these members who are assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division investigated a shooting in Lakeland that injured one person and resulted in three homicides. Early in the investigation, the surviving victim provided key details that helped identify the suspect vehicle, a U-Haul van that was rented in Miami. The team worked with Miami police agencies and the U.S. Marshals Service, to find and process the van. The evidence found in the van resulted in arrest warrants and search warrants being issued, and ultimately, the arrests of four suspects. Based on the tireless investigation and dogged determination of these members, all four suspects were indicted by a Polk County Grand Jury on multiple violent felonies.
Lieutenant Greg Goreck, Sergeant Mike Bissett, Deputies Kevin Bradley, Daniel Gunnoe, David Hooyman, Ralph Marshall, Robert Mendez, and Angelo Rivera, and Lynda Hall, Kimberly Kinsley, Paula Maney, Michele Rhoden
Based on an in-depth investigation by this tireless team, Gary Carroll was arrested nine months after the hit-and-run crash that killed Eric Pope, who was riding home from work on his bicycle. The suspect was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in state prison. For their diligent and thorough efforts investigating this hit-and-run case, everyone on this team was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal.
Lieutenant Jill Seymour, Sergeant Andrew Beymer, Deputies Adam Austin, Joseph Clanton, Brian Cogswell, John Marion, Robert Mateo, Alysia O’Dell, Ruben Rodgers, Ruben Rodgers, and Jessee Winberry
These members of the Gang Resistance Intervention Program, or GRIP, have increased the effectiveness of law enforcement services throughout the Polk County School district, as evidenced by the decrease in discipline and the individual students who have substantially improved their academic performance. Their efforts were widely acclaimed by school board members, district staff and administrators, parents, and students; and the unit was recognized by the media and Florida Gang Investigators Association. For their innovative efforts in the creation of a highly successful program, they were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
Deputy Sheriff Steve Theriac
In 2016, Deputy Theriac personally coordinated several events that made a positive impact on Polk County’s citizens, especially children. He took high school seniors to downtown Tampa for dinner and to a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game. He orchestrated a game day experience for Lake Wales High School basketball players with the Orlando Magic basketball team. He was instrumental in providing refurbished bicycles to the young and old through a partnership with a bicycle mission. And at Christmas, Deputy Theriac secured $5,000.00 worth of donations to provide Christmas gifts for 46 children and food for 13 families in the Eloise area. Deputy Sheriff Theriac is committed to improving the quality of life for the citizens we serve, while enhancing the agency’s image.
Detectives Barry Schnable and Joseph Turnage
In July 2016, the PCSO Computer Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at the home of child pornography suspect James Ballone. Of the 52 devices seized, detectives found 14 that contained over 4,500 images and videos depicting child pornography. Detectives Turnage and Schnable processed the evidence and painstakingly identified two live victims who were being sexually abused by Ballone. Both detectives worked tirelessly to ensure every victim was identified, and every possible charge was filed against this vile suspect. Through their efforts, Ballone pled guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison.
Lieutenant Robert Sessions and Monica Villanueva
On February 2017, Polk Sheriff’s Charities, Inc., under the leadership of Lt. Sessions and administrative help from Monica Villanueva, held its third annual Jeepin’ With Judd event at Clear Springs Farms. These two members selflessly dedicated their time and energy to every facet of Jeepin’ With Judd. They were part of a motivated work team, who were equally as devoted. With a total of 1,400 Jeeps participating, this year’s Jeepin’ With Judd event raised approximately $130,000!
Lieutenant Greg Goreck
In March 2015, the agency was looking for options to streamline and automate the search warrant process. At that time, the process was time-consuming, inefficient, and not in keeping with the latest technology. Lieutenant Goreck began researching vendors, setting up demonstrations, and establishing relationships with the impacted agencies. After many months of tenacious work, Lieutenant Goreck identified the need and benefit for an automated electronic warrant process, and marketed it to our agency partners. In January 2016, Docusign was selected and implemented as our new e-warrants vendor. Docusign will save thousands of dollars in staffing costs for all involved partners. It has already resulted in significant time savings and better overall internal and external customer service. Through Docusign, a process that used to take between four and six hours can now be accomplished in less than one hour.
Sergeant Glenn Ferrell
Sergeant Ferrell volunteered to design and construct a natural fountain using flowing water as a symbol of life at the PCSO memorial in front of the Sheriff’s Operations Center. Since 2009, he has dedicated over 140 volunteer hours on the project. This living memorial serves as a reminder that we honor our law enforcement members for how they lived their lives in service to others. The design of this memorial fountain instills a peaceful atmosphere and the moving water serves as a natural calming influence, relaxing all who visit there. Sergeant Ferrell hand-selected the 7,000 lbs. of Tennessee fieldstone for their color and unique aesthetic qualities. Since the memorial’s construction, he has given his own personal time to maintain the water feature at no cost to the public. This time has included after hours and weekend work troubleshooting mechanical issues, pruning and replanting, cleaning, and maintaining water levels.
In 2014, Francis Hart began researching the possibility of transitioning our fleet from gasoline to propane. During 2015 and 2016, hundreds of agency vehicles were outfitted with propane conversion kits and several propane-fueling sites were installed around the county, for a fuel cost savings of over $40,000. Additionally, the agency received $30,000.00 in tax credit since the implementation of the program. In addition to cutting costs, Francis’ efforts brought the agency to the forefront as a leader in the usage of alternative fuel by a law enforcement agency. He also took the time to help other agencies take advantage of the available tax credit.
Detention Deputy Joseph Hersey – see above in Member of the Year section
Matt Costine – see above in Member of the Year section
Life Saving Medals
Life Saving Medals are presented to the member who displays bravery or courage above and beyond the call of duty. The member’s immediate or alert action is directly responsible for sustaining or saving a human life, or removing a person from immediate danger when such danger would have taken the person’s life. This is a life-saving, life-protecting situation which does not put the rescuing member’s life in danger. Subsequent death of an individual after release to medical personnel shall not preclude awarding this medal.
Sergeant Michael Welch, and Bailiffs Gary Alfsen, Troy Denby, Ralph Hawkins, Mark Nance
In June 2016, Courthouse Security members heard a radio call from a G4S Officer requesting assistance to a medical emergency where there was an unresponsive man in a car. This team ran to the vehicle to assess the situation and discovered the man was not breathing and had no pulse. They called 911 and secured a perimeter, retrieved an AED, removed the victim from the car, and placed him on the ground. They deployed the AED, and began CPR. After several minutes of everyone assisting in this medical emergency, the victim regained a pulse and he began breathing.
Bailiff Thaddeus Davis, Jr. and Deputy Casey Plummer
While off duty in April 2016, an unknown woman alerted Deputy Plummer to an unconscious man lying on the ground by the lake at Isabella Court and Huron Way in Lakeland. Deputy Plummer and Bailiff Thaddeus Davis responded, checked the scene for hazards, and assessed the victim, discovering he had no pulse and was not breathing. Together they began CPR switching responsibilities with this procedure until the victim began breathing and had a pulse. EMS arrived on scene and continued medical care.
Deputy Sheriff Brian Bruchey
In March 2016, Deputy Bruchey responded to an AED call for service in Davenport. The 58-year-old female victim was unresponsive, without a pulse and not breathing. He immediately began CPR and continued for one minute before attaching the AED pads to her chest. The AED advised the shock was necessary and he subsequently administered it. After the shock, he continued CPR on the victim until EMS arrived. The victim regained a pulse and started breathing on her own before being transported to the hospital.
Sergeant Mike Evans
In March 2016, Sergeant Evans responded to a home in north Lakeland with an unresponsive 17- year-old boy, who was not breathing and had no pulse. While other first responders were retrieving their AED equipment, he initiated CPR. After about two minutes of chest compressions, a pulse was detected. EMS personnel arrived on scene and transported the victim to the hospital, where he made a full recovery.
Deputies Mark McCray and Joshua Williams
In December 2016, while driving along US Hwy 27,the two deputies observed someone performing CPR on a person alongside the roadway, after a single-vehicle crash. They immediately stopped to render aid to the driver and passenger, both of whom were unresponsive. They retrieved their AED and took over performing CPR on both victims, until they were revived. Their quick actions ultimately saved the lives of both victims.
Deputies Billy Osborne, John Skillman, and Timothy Snyder
In June 2016, this team responded to a suicide attempt in Lakeland, where a man was locked inside a metal building with his truck running. The team displayed extreme courage by forcing entry to the locked building. Their coordinated efforts made it possible to quickly locate and remove the man from his running truck while simultaneously ventilating this toxic and heat filled environment. EMS and Fire arrived on-scene shortly thereafter and provided additional life-saving measures for the victim.
The following award recipients can be found above in the “Member of the Year” section:
Deputies Marlon Brown and Robert Carver
Deputy Sheriff Robert Bryant
Michael Holland, Sr.
Deputy Sheriff Tony Green
Deputies Bernardo Del Valle and Deputy Sheriff Lee Smith
|Marshall Anderson Award|
A member who distinguishes themselves by their undaunted determination to overcome personal adversities and strive for proficiency and excellence in their daily lives and in the performance of their job duties.
Deputy Sheriff Tammbrii Noel
Special Recognition by Other Organizations
Deputy Sheriffs Bernardo Del Valle and Lee Smith – Deputy Sheriffs of the Year
Deputy Sheriff Robert Bryant – Distinguished Service Award
American Legion Post 8
Detectives Jeffrey Bradford and Maria Sorensen – Deputy Sheriff’s of the Year
Reserve DS Theodore Brown – Reserve Deputy of the Year
Coby Alfred, Explorer Captain – Explorer of the Year
Chantel Wiley – Dispatcher of the Year
Detention Deputies Marlon Brown and Robert Carver – Detention Deputies of the Year
Polk County Police Chiefs Association
Detectives Jeffrey Bradford and Maria Sorensen – LEO of the Year/Large Agency
Deputy Sheriff Robert Bryant – Distinguished Service Award
Lakeland Bar Association
Deputy Sheriffs Bernardo Del Valle and Lee Smith – Golden Badge Award
Congratulations to all!