FDLE members from throughout Florida were honored in Tallahassee on Monday for their outstanding performances last year.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass congratulated the award winners for key accomplishments, money saving ideas and productivity.
FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass says, “FDLE has incredible members committed to thoughtful, innovative advancements that continue to make FDLE a premiere law enforcement agency in Florida, and the country. These members strive to enhance our criminal justice partnerships and to find ways to improve how we keep Florida’s citizens and visitors safe. I am honored to recognize these nominees and award winners for their selfless commitment to service and excellence.”
Award winners are as follows:
Commissioner’s Award – Shawn Johnson, Senior Crime Laboratory Analyst, Orlando Regional Operations Center
The Commissioner’s Award is given to an “unsung” hero whose performance is outstanding, yet sometimes low profile. FDLE Orlando’s Shawn Johnson is considered a “superstar,” and consistently exceeded productivity targets for every expectation and rating, sometimes doubling or tripling them. Mr. Johnson’s peers see him as a role model, and he uses this status to consistently help younger analysts learn from him. He is an integral part of the Orlando Biology section, the Orlando region and FDLE.
J.B. Dobson Distinguished Member of the Year – Lindsay Rojas, Senior Crime Intelligence Analyst, Orlando Regional Operations Center
The Jessie “J.B.” Dobson Distinguished Member of the Year Award is given to a member who demonstrates superior performance or who accomplishes a significant achievement. This member consistently performs above and beyond to provide exceptional service to internal or external customers. Lindsay Rojas is part of the Orlando region’s Electronic Surveillance Support Team (ESST) squad. In 2021, the squad received over 2,500 requests for service and Ms. Rojas was a major contributor to the successful completion of those missions. In one double-homicide case, she was instrumental in reviewing phone records for the prosecutor one week before trial. The defendants were convicted and the prosecutor praised Ms. Rojas for her role in her preparation, testimony and presentation to the jury. She has a commitment to excellence and outstanding work ethic.
Distinguished Support Member of the Year – Jennifer Spatola, Forensic Technologist, Pensacola Regional Operations Center
FDLE Pensacola Friction Ridge Section Forensic Technologist Jennifer Spatola took on a number of tasks in addition to her own in 2021. She volunteered to work evidence intake to aid with staffing shortages, provided advice to contributors on proper photography techniques for latent prints, worked tirelessly to problem-solve equipment malfunctions and was the Pensacola event photographer. Even more significant, Ms. Spatola took the initiative to conduct extensive research on a new chemical called Nile Blue for the development of latent prints. Nile Blue is higher quality, less expensive and easier to use than the current method. Nile Blue has since been validated for use in the friction ridge section and Ms. Spatola was instrumental in providing the necessary information for the validation process.
Distinguished Team of the Year – Investigations and Forensics, Jacksonville Regional Operations Center (JROC), Keesha Nauss, Mike O’Neal, Travis Smith, Joshua Mead, Andrew Shedlock, George Dandelake, David Meacham, Michael Clark, Garrett Carlisle, Rusty Rodgers, Daniel Pierson, Veronica Edwards, Scott Guess, Joel Palmer, Kacie Reynolds, Jason Still, Jami Pena, David Maurer, Margaret Rhatigan, Steven Hoesing, Robert Sammons, Peter Moulder, David Brock, William Bowes, Morgan Finley, Peter Soulis, Amanda Walton, Maggie Kleindienst, Tonya Rives, Jennifer Koonce, Marissa Delaney, Jami Beers, Mitchell Sheffield, Brad Thomas, Lisa Zeller, Jason Hitt, Daniel Escalada, William Spannhake, Maria Andreoli, Erin Morris, David DeHaan, Nicholas Coutu, Brooke Hoover and Maysaa Farhat
In the early hours of September 24, 2021, Nassau County Deputy Sheriff Joshua Moyers performed a traffic stop on a convicted felon. The felon shot Deputy Moyers and fled. Deputy Moyers succumbed to his injuries and an extensive manhunt began for his murderer. FDLE Jacksonville special agents, crime intelligence analysts and crime scene members responded and a Joint Command Center was established. FDLE led the joint investigation that included more than 20 local, state and federal agencies. After extensive investigation, the suspect was apprehended five days after Deputy Moyers was murdered. The JROC response was a 24-hour a day operation resulting in over 1,350 investigative hours and hundreds of forensic hours.
Excellence in Leadership – Chris Johnson, Chief of Professional Development, Criminal Justice Professionalism, FDLE Headquarters
Chief Chris Johnson has played an instrumental role in several new FDLE initiatives. He is known for his ability to effectively manage multiple programs, projects and tasks, giving each one the necessary oversight while allowing his staff to manage and grow. Under his leadership, the Bureau of Professional Development launched new programs and improved several existing programs all while continuing to seek new ways to meet the needs of FDLE members and the external customers served by the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute. His most impactful project for FDLE members is the department’s Member Development Program, a holistic plan to address member’s professional development and retention, which was created in 2021 and launched with significant success in 2022.
Jose Perez Special Agent of the Year – Patricia Thompson, Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center
The Jose Perez Special Agent of the Year award recognizes commendable investigative or intelligence activity by a sworn member. In 2021, Special Agent (SA) Patricia Thompson investigated several high-profile cases involving people in positions of trust and power who violated their victims or the public with egregious behavior. SA Thompson worked an investigation where a senior citizen was being financially exploited by a contractor who moved into the victim’s residence, while draining the victim’s financial assets. SA Thompson worked closely with the Office of Statewide Prosecution and the victim’s family and the contractor was arrested and charged with exploitation of the elderly.
Forensic Scientist of the Year – Corey Crumbley, Senior Crime Laboratory Analyst, Orlando Regional Operations Center
Corey Crumbley’s commitment and dedication to implementing new technology and methods, as well as her immeasurable forensic expertise in the area of Biology and DNA, make her an invaluable FDLE member and forensic scientist. In addition to her regular casework, Ms. Crumbley is also the CODIS Administrator and Principal Instructor of Crime Lab Analyst trainees, Genetic Genealogy liaison, external and internal auditor, internal and external training committee member, BioLIMS beta tester and trainer. In 2021, she also worked on a project to evaluate old cases with new technology. On numerous occasions Ms. Crumbley has come in on weekends or worked late/early to ensure that the case was worked, reviewed or searched in CODIS. She represents everything a senior crime laboratory analyst and FDLE member should strive to be.
Contribution to Criminal Justice – Toxicology, Orlando Regional Operations Center (OROC) and Tallahassee Regional Operations Center (TROC), Orlando Crime Laboratory Analyst Jennifer Lewis and Crime Laboratory Analyst Supervisor Dennis Siewert; Tallahassee Crime Laboratory Analyst Lauren Huene and Crime Laboratory Analyst Supervisor LeAndra Higginbotham
In November 2021, the toxicology discipline began using a new drug screening procedure that has greatly improved both turnaround times and sensitivity of targeted analytes. This was a culmination of a multi-year validation project spearheaded by the toxicology teams of OROC and TROC. The transition required the team to undergo an exhaustive validation project to move drug screening to a more advanced instrument, including creating and optimizing a screening method for over 70 different drugs. Members of this team put in hundreds of hours during this validation project. Since the new screening procedure went online, backlogged cases dropped almost 50% and turnaround times dropped between 22-25%. Their efforts have strengthened the scope of testing within the toxicology discipline and offer the criminal justice community an increased level of service.
Innovation of the Year – Biology Laboratory Information Management System (BIO-LIMS) Development Team, Rachel Aponte, Molly Carter, Christopher Conklin, Jennifer Eatmon, Chris Hendry, Maria Hiott, Victoria Kipker, Jack Martin, Tim Miller, Michelle Mullins, Steve Rutledge, Jillian White, Xujing Sun, Brandon Floyd, Donna Carney and Kurt Posey
With FDLE’s six regional laboratories, maintenance of forensic examination records is of the utmost importance, particularly when you consider the approximately 60,000 distinct cases and 1 million items of evidence handled in a calendar year. Case file storage space, cost and efficiency issues led to an initiative to go paperless and in 2021, the BIO-LIMS project was introduced. The BIO-LIMS team, alongside members from Information Technology Services, devoted thousands of hours, including weekends, to minimize impact to laboratory operations during normal working hours. This diverse team brought together distinct regional needs into an adaptable, innovative product that will improve consistency, minimize errors, reduce the physical paper footprint and simplify statewide quality review processes that will leave a long-lasting positive impact to FDLE’s service in the field of forensic Biology and DNA.
Capitol Police Officer of the Year – Sergeant Caleb Lewis, Capitol Police
Sergeant Caleb Lewis is a dedicated and devoted member of many Capitol Police units. He served as a lead Field Training Officer, Assistant Team Leader of the Special Operations Unit, instructor in numerous disciplines and was also involved with staffing and security during Legislative Session. In 2021, as a lead Field Training Officer, he assisted in monitoring every recruit’s development through the program, from start to finish, and he voluntarily took on many responsibilities, such as new officer orientation and creating recruit field training schedules. His strong work ethic, motivation to improve himself and dedication to the team is an inspiration.