Sheriff Knight Holds Awards Ceremony

NEWS RELEASE 18-016 - JANUARY 29, 2018
Full Award Group
Sheriff Tom Knight presented several awards during a ceremony Monday to recognize employees who demonstrated exemplary service to their community.

Sergeants Adam Kaskey, James Shurtleff and Rick Reilly, Detectives Cass Gaeta, David Tuck, James Klay and Eric Wedin, Forensics Supervisor Candace Matthews, Crime Scene Analysts Jerry Wagner and Theresa Slovacek, Supervisor Brett Thomas and Digital Forensic Technician Brooke Buzzell were presented with the Meritorious Achievement Award. These dozen members are recognized for their tireless work in a lengthy criminal investigation launched in January 2017 involving a man suspected of Attempted Murder, Burglary, Grand Theft, Kidnapping, and several other economic and computer-related crimes. Due to the complexity of the investigation, these members often worked long hours; some more than 14 days straight without a day off. The investigation required the culmination of several disciplines to include investigative techniques, crime scene forensics, digital forensics, GPS tracking and others. In addition to their proficiencies, these members are commended for their level of accuracy, decision making, personal judgement, moral clarity and leadership during a critical time. In November 2017, the suspect in this case was sentenced to 15 years in prison, 10 years on parole, and 500 hours of community service related to the kidnapping charge. He was also sentenced to 15 years concurrent prison time for crimes related to exploitation of the elderly. Throughout the investigation these members were steady in their faith of obtaining the truth, possessed moral courage, and were relentless in the pursuit of justice.

Corrections Lieutenant William Tracy, Sergeant Scott Kinney, Deputies Kurtiss Manley and Timothy Major, and Offender Work Program Coordinators Elizabeth Negron, Kurt Austerman and Megan Sargent, received the Unit Citation Award. Within the Courts and Corrections Division of the sheriff’s office, the Corrections Services Bureau is responsible for the jail’s maintenance, food and medical contract renewals, catastrophic medical insurance, preventative maintenance agreements, technological improvements between other county office personnel and contractors, as well as oversight and facilitation of the offender work program; all of which played an integral role in our community’s recovery process following Hurricane Irma in September 2017. In the days following the weather event, the sheriff’s offender work program became inundated with dozens of urgent requests for inmate labor. Internally, members worked together with the Classification Section of the jail to identify a dozen additional inmates to assist outside the confinement of the jail. Once inmates were identified, members worked with Sarasota County Parks and Recreation to facilitate debris removal primarily at Nathan Benderson Park in preparation for the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Members also worked with the Animal Services Section to replace outdoor canopies and the agency’s Mounted Patrol Unit to assist with landscaping issues. Concurrent to Hurricane Irma was the agency’s move into its new headquarters on Cattleridge Blvd., where inmates helped unload delivery trucks, assemble office furniture, paint, pressure wash, repair drywall and more, saving the agency thousands of dollars in labor expenses. As a cohesive group, these members constantly work on projects within their division, in other sections of the agency, and throughout Sarasota County, with a reputation for proficiency, organization, and professionalism.

"These are two unique awards that I am very proud to present today,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “These men and women not only exemplify the values of our agency but are true public servants with a passion for making this community a safer place. Congratulations to each of them on a job very well done.”