Sheriff Knight Awards Employees and Community Members

News Release #: 17-113 - MAY 8, 2017

Sheriff Tom Knight presented several awards during two ceremonies Monday to recognize employees and citizens who have demonstrated exemplary service to the community.

Captain Debra Kaspar, Lieutenant Jonathan Varley, Pastor John Walker and Community Affairs Director Kaitlyn Perez received the Meritorious Achievement Award for their work in developing the Sheriff’s Rightful Policing Strategy and accompanying workshops. A one-day event targeted at scenario-based training to connect law enforcement with the community, the workshops allow citizens to go through mock calls for service including traffic stops, domestic disturbances, heroin overdoses, 911 call taking, and more. To date, more than 300 citizens have experienced the workshop and countless others through television news and social media, now have a better understanding of the agency’s philosophy of Rightful Policing, because of the program. Captain Kaspar, Lieutenant Varley, Pastor Walker and Director Perez played an integral role in planning and facilitating the workshops, often times balancing the responsibilities of several people at a time, staying to work afterhours and on weekends, and developing unique bonds with community members to enhance the program. Recognized for their judgement, organizational ability and moral clarity, Captain Kaspar, Lieutenant Varley, Pastor Walker and Director Perez, are honored for their implementation of a dynamic program that continues to positively impact relationships and interactions between law enforcement and the community it serves.

Dr. Harriet Moore, Pastor Patrick Miller, Pastor Vincent Smith, Geoffry Gilot and Al-Muta Hawks are recognized with a Certificate of Recognition for their contributions to the Sheriff’s Rightful Policing Strategy workshops. These citizens distinguished themselves exceptionally through their collaborative efforts to develop the program. To date, the agency has hosted four workshops, reaching more than 300 citizens, and impacting countless others through news and social media. The support and input garnered through Dr. Harriet Moore, Pastor Patrick Miller, Pastor Vincent Smith, Geoffry Gilot and Al-Muta Hawks, has continued to enhance the program and develop strong, successful partnerships within the community.

Deputy Joseph Scibelli received the Life Saving Award for his efforts alongside Deputies Robbie Martin and Esterlin Perozo, in bringing a man back to life after he overdosed on heroin. Deputy Martin was first to arrive on scene where he discovered the man lying lifeless on the garage floor and immediately deployed his agency-issued naloxone. Deputy Perozo arrived and aided with chest compressions while Martin deployed a second dose of naloxone. Deputy Scibelli also responded and assisted with providing rescue breaths for close to five minutes until the Sarasota County Fire Department arrived. Just as paramedics entered the home, the man regained consciousness and was transported to Doctor’s Hospital. Thanks to the quick action of deputies Martin, Perozo and Scibelli, the man was given a second chance at life. (Deputies Martin and Perozo were recognized at a ceremony in October).

Sergeant Clifford Legg and Deputies Stacey Eve and John Blomgren are recognized with the Life Saving Award for their efforts in saving the life of an overdose patient. On January 24, 2017, deputies responded to a home on Lockwood Ridge where they found a citizen performing CPR on the patient who was unconscious with a weak pulse. Deputy Eve quickly deployed naloxone as Sergeant Legg arrived to begin chest compressions and Deputy Blomgren performed rescue breaths. Deputy Eve deployed naloxone twice more before paramedics arrived and took over lifesaving measures. The victim stabilized and was transported to the hospital where he recovered from the incident. Sergeant Legg, Deputy Eve and Deputy Blomgren exhibited extraordinary merit and dedication to duty in this successful attempt to save the life of a citizen.

Deputy David Miller received the Life Saving Award for his efforts in bringing a man back to life after he experienced a heroin overdose. The incident took place in a half-way house for recovering addicts on January 29, 2017. When the patient’s roommate thought something didn’t sound right inside the bathroom, he notified the house manager who unlocked the door and found the patient unconscious. The manager called 911 and Deputy Miller was first to arrive. Deputy Miller provided rescue breaths and administered naloxone twice in order to resuscitate the victim. The patient regained consciousness and was transported to the hospital where he survived. Deputy Miller’s use of first aid resulted in the preservation of the patient’s life.

Deputies James Crosby and Michael Buehler are recognized with the Heroic Achievement Award for their efforts to save an elderly woman from her home while it was engulfed in flames. On January 27, 2017, deputies were dispatched to a home in the 2600 block of 24th Street in Sarasota, where an 83-year-old woman was trapped inside. Because of the flames, deputies were unable to gain entry through both the front and back doors of the home. A bystander broke a window into the bathroom where Deputy Crosby entered with assistance from Deputy Lindsay Fischer. Deputy Buehler arrived and gained access to the back of the home where he and Deputy Crosby located the woman and pulled her to safety. Due to the close proximity to the fire, deputies carried the woman away from the house where they performed CPR until she was transported to the hospital for treatment. The deputies exhibited extraordinary heroism by approaching and entering the home, which was fully engulfed in flames, in order to save the woman’s life.

Timothy Miller, Christian Miller and Donavon Beachy are recognized with a Certificate of Recognition for their actions to save an elderly woman from a burning home in January in Sarasota. Timothy, Christian and Donavon were nearby in the 2600 block of 24th Street when they saw the victim’s home engulfed in flames and hurried to offer assistance. When they arrived, the victim’s daughter alerted them to her 83-year-old mother who was trapped inside the home. The three men attempted to use concrete and a cinder block to open the front door but were unsuccessful. Deputies soon arrived and made entry into the home where they saved the elderly woman while Donavon and Timothy comforted the victim’s daughter who was visibly shaken and upset. Timothy Miller, Christian Miller and Donavon Beachy were all comfortably in the safety of Timothy’s home when they observed the fire across the street and performed an act of valor, in a time of crisis, to come to the aid of another person.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) Public Safety Chief Robert “Mickey” Watson received the agency’s Intergovernmental Service Award for his long-time partnership with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Through Chief Watson’s leadership, procedures have been established for agency personnel to have access to witnesses and defendants who are patients of SMH to include complicated blood draws, interviews and dealing with distraught family members. Further, Chief Watson regularly makes the SMH facility available to members of the agency’s SWAT team and Fugitive Apprehension Unit for specialized training, and has hosted mock disaster drills for surrounding agencies. Chief Watson continues to show his support for law enforcement by hosting the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service on the grounds of SMH, assisting with traffic control during the annual Special Olympics Torch Run, and ensuring a public safety presence at funeral services for indigent veterans. Most recently, Chief Watson helped secure a former pediatric ambulance for use by the agency’s Hazardous Devices Unit. This unique intergovernmental partnership has led to an improved understanding of the roles of respective agencies and as such, allows for a higher quality of public service to the citizens on Sarasota County.

Sarasota County Government’s Deputy County Attorney Rick Elbrecht is recognized with the agency’s Intergovernmental Award for his valued contributions to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office by defending several law enforcement and corrections deputies on high-profile cases. Prior to joining the county attorney’s office, Elbrecht worked as an Assistant State Attorney in Manatee County and at the Nelson Hesse law firm in Sarasota. Members of the agency’s General Counsel’s Office have worked closely with Elbrecht on trial preparation, discovery obligations, site visits, employee interviews, and policy review. Elbrecht is also recognized for countless hours dedicated to traveling out of state, to federal court, state court and state prisons, to conduct depositions, and hire and vet subject matter experts on behalf of the sheriff’s office. Attorney Elbrecht’s contributions to the sheriff’s office and its members are highly regarded and worthy of this award.

“This is a great day for our agency and for the Sarasota County community,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “These individuals make such monumental contributions not only to their work but to their community as well. As for the citizens who were recognized today, they should know that their partnerships are invaluable to the success of law enforcement, and we truly couldn’t do our job without their support.”