FDLE members from throughout Florida were honored in Tallahassee for their outstanding performances last year.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen congratulated the award winners for key accomplishments, money saving ideas and productivity.
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen says, “The challenges we faced in 2020 were unlike any other, but our members didn’t miss a beat working hard to ensure the safety and security of Florida. We received more than 100 nominations for our Annual Awards and there were many deserving members and teams. Congratulations to this year’s outstanding winners for their leadership and service.”
Award winners are as follows:
Commissioner’s Award – Eric Bouquio, Criminal Justice Professionalism, FDLE Headquarters
Like past recipients of this award, Eric Bouquio lives FDLE’s fundamental values of Service, Integrity, Respect and Quality. With a superior talent and work ethic, the products he produces and edits, such as videos for officer training, are top notch and the manner in which he delivers them are what we should all strive for. From video products to training to brochures, he always exceeds expectations. Eric exemplifies the definition of a public servant and has made significant contributions toward FDLE’s mission.
Special Agent of the Year – Chris Vastine, Miami Regional Operations Center
Agent Vastine was the lead investigator in a comprehensive statewide grand jury investigation working more than 3,500 hours overseeing and coordinating the collection and distribution of all required documents and evidence. The Grand Jury prosecutors credited Agent Vastine as the investigative heart of the jury. They recognized his leadership and dogged determination for enabling the Grand Jury to carry out the orders of the Florida Supreme Court. “Agent Vastine’s incredible work made a huge, daunting undertaking highly successful and one that will help protect schoolchildren for years to come,” said Statewide Prosecutors Nick Cox and Joe Spataro. “It would have been impossible without Chris.”
Distinguished Team of the Year – Tallahassee Regional Operations Center Organized Crime Squad 2, Special Agent Supervisor, Manny Gonzalez, Special Agents Cory Anderson, Jarrod Taylor, Frank Gorski, Harvey Coker, Jeffrey Watson, Dusty Arnold and Senior Crime Intelligence Analyst II, Claudia Evans
In 2020, the Tallahassee squad completed several notable investigations including Operation No Warning, Operation When the Bell Rings and a Taylor County methamphetamine case. These investigations resulted in the arrests of 61 suspects involved in drug trafficking, many of whom had violent criminal histories. As a result of these investigations, several drug trafficking organizations operating in the Big Bend were shut down and large amounts of dangerous illegal drugs were taken off the streets including pounds of cocaine and heroin, ounces of fentanyl and hundreds of prescription drugs. In addition to drugs, more than $400,000, firearms and stolen vehicles were seized. Operating with just four special agents assigned to the squad at one time, the team still worked on other investigations, assisted with regional callouts and helped the Protective Operations Section.
Innovation of the Year – Tim Stanley, Inspector, Sworn Training Unit, Criminal Justice Professionalism, Orlando
Tim Stanley’s participation in the 2016 Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting encouraged him to reshape the way law enforcement prepares for active shooter scenarios and beyond. Tim’s experience as a Navy Seabee also armed him with the tools and knowledge necessary to build quality training equipment at little to no cost so that every agency in the state can adopt his blueprint. His innovations include building targets for the active shooter course and designing training that helps teach recruits and officers how to defend themselves in a vehicle ambush. Tim trained over 1,000 students from 100+ agencies and college centers—including train-the-trainer—in the active shooter course he helped develop a few years ago. Furthermore, over 150 students had the opportunity to shoot out of his car simulator in central Florida. Tim’s training, background, and thrifty approach to design and innovation—including his eagerness and ability to travel throughout the state—makes our state safer and our officers better prepared.
Capitol Police Officer of the Year – Officer Karla Atkins, Tallahassee
Field Training Officer Karla Atkins is a leader among her squad members, who look up to her and respect her. She devotes a large amount of time and effort to making sure she trains new officers properly and thoroughly and she frequently volunteers to adjust her hours to assist other shifts with staffing needs. She serves as the designated officer in charge for her shift during absences of the supervisor and is training for enhanced threat detection, an additional duty for which she volunteered to better serve FDLE and the citizens of Florida.
Forensic Scientist of the Year – Taryn Emswiler, Crime Laboratory Analyst, Pensacola Regional Operations Center
As Technical Leader, Crime Lab Analyst Taryn Emswiler has been instrumental in the implementation of a major revision to the Crime Scene Investigation Standard Operating Procedures, to include the creation of standardized phrases which were simpler to understand and simultaneously achieved consistent reporting. Ms. Emswiler also researched and provided a list of free training, in addition to relevant FDLE-created information to assist special agents with their understanding of crime scene processing. In 2020, she was accepted as a member of the newly formed Crime Scene Investigation Consensus Body of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Standards Board (ASB). As such, she participates in the screening and peer review of national standards. Ms. Emswiler is an active member of her discipline and never hesitates to assist.
Excellence in Leadership – Joy Brady, Chief of Human Resource Management, FDLE Headquarters
Chief Brady has dedicated her career to helping others and her level of service to our members and supervisors is what truly sets her apart. This past year has been incredibly challenging for everyone, but for Chief Brady and her staff it has been even more so. The passage of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act required human resources to rapidly develop procedures for FDLE. The section was immediately flooded with a myriad of questions related to use of federal leave, quarantine/exposure, telework and other issues. Even after guidance was developed, there were unique circumstances and Chief Brady was depended on to give practical, common sense advise that served the best interest of the member and FDLE. While the pandemic response created an extraordinary workload, the normal human resource functions had to continue. No matter the challenge, Chief Brady is always there to provide support and solutions when needed. She calls upon her decades of knowledge and life experiences to help others see things in a different perspective to help guide their decision making.
Contribution to Criminal Justice – Robyn Ragsdale, Senior Crime Laboratory Analyst / Biology, Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center
Robyn Ragsdale has maintained an exceptional level of performance, exceeding analyst performance expectations by 43 percent during the 2020 calendar year. She continues to enhance the larger criminal justice community through her involvement with several organizations, including the ANSI National Accreditation Board and the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science. She has been involved with writing, reviewing, and document management of numerous standards and best practice documents. Her efforts in these endeavors help to strengthen the field of forensic science through the development of standards providing a foundation where performance, reliability and validity can be assessed.
Distinguished Member of the Year – Teri Jenkins, Senior Management Analyst II, Business Support Program, FDLE Headquarters
Ms. Jenkins is recognized for her dedicated efforts on three high profile projects: helping to secure a brand new, state-of-the-art, turn key facility in Pensacola, re-envisioning the office space within Headquarters during the challenges of COVID-19, and helping to obtain the lease of a warehouse in Tallahassee. Each project was time consuming and the end result was not always the original vision. Regardless of the outcome, Ms. Jenkins was the consummate professional throughout each process, demonstrating flexibility and resilience to get the job done.
Distinguished Support Member of the Year – Maxine Payton, Criminal Justice Customer Service Specialist, Officer Records, Criminal Justice Professionalism, FDLE Headquarters
During 2020, Maxine Payton was the only member in the Officer Records Section from March until mid-May. Even once a position was filled, Maxine continued covering the majority of the state while simultaneously training the new member. Maxine was responsible for 69 percent of all calls received by the Officer Records Section in 2020. She handled 5,355 telephone calls for assistance from criminal justice agencies, training schools, and citizens out of a total of 7,774 telephone calls received by the section. Additionally, Maxine was responsible for 42 percent of all emails/faxes. She responded to 2,895 emails/faxes out of a total of 6,881 received in 2020. During this challenging time, she exhibited professionalism at its best.
Life Saving Medal – Special Agent Tony Martindale, Miami Regional Operations Center
Miami Special Agent Tony Martindale was recently exiting the Boca Raton Resort and Spa when he heard cries for help and saw a small child being pulled out of the pool at the resort. Without hesitation, SA Martindale stepped in, identified himself and began assisting with life-saving efforts to resuscitate the child, as the child had become cyanotic. He secured the child’s head, continued to assist a lifeguard and took charge of the area asking everyone to stay back. After just a minute or two of resuscitation efforts, the child began to breathe again and regained a pulse. Without the quick actions of SA Martindale, the situation could have had a far worse outcome.