Police Week HPD Award Winners — the Narratives

Shelly Molina

2018 POLICE WEEK REDUCED NARRATIVES

 

 

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – Officer Pablo Flores Ramirez

While in training, Probationary Police Officer Pablo Flores Ramirez responded to a call where a woman stated that her ex-boyfriend was coming to her apartment to kill himself in front of her. As the officers rounded the corner of the parking lot, they saw the suspect, who fired at the officers. The suspect walked towards the officers firing his gun in their direction. Officer Flores Ramirez returned fire, incapacitating the suspect.

 

INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR: Officer Eric Therkildsen

In 2015, Officer Eric Therkildsen took over as the Dive Master/Instructor for the Dive Team. As a result of his efforts, the Houston Police Dive Team is one of the top rated dive teams in the country. In 2017, Officer Therkildsen not only trained his team but members of several outside agencies, delivering a total of 2,144 hours of instruction to 75 students. Officer Therkildsen has authored 11 new TCOLE lesson plans for training.

 

FTO OF THE YEAR: Officer Sean Jordan

Officer Sean Jordan was training Probationary Police Officer Pablo Flores Ramirez when they responded to a call where a woman stated that her ex-boyfriend was coming to her apartment to kill himself in front of her. When the officers rounded the corner of the parking lot, they saw the suspect, who fired at the officers. The suspect walked towards the officers firing his gun in their direction. Officer Jordan returned fire incapacitating the suspect. Officer Jordan continued to maintain dialogue with the PPO.

 

 

PATROL OFFICER OF THE YEAR – Officer Adan Ayala

Officer Adan Ayala is normally a high producer and a team player. During Hurricane Harvey, Officer Ayala worked tirelessly to provide normal services as did the officers of the Southeast Division, but he went above and beyond without hesitation. Officer Ayala owns a large truck that he used to provide assistance that was needed by officers during the whole mobilization. When others were stuck at the station, Officer Ayala was able to take his personal vehicle, find a business that was open, and get food for the growing number of people at the station. Officer Ayala used his personal vehicle, gas and even his own money to provide the food. He used his vehicle and tools to help other flooded citizens or officers who were stranded. Officer Ayala exemplifies what it means to be an officer that goes above and beyond the call of duty.

 

PATROL OFFICER OF THE YEAR – Officer Leon Johnson

Officer Leon Johnson saw suspects attempting to break into a vehicle in a gas station parking lot. Officer Johnson drove toward their car and they jumped in a vehicle and drove off. Officers stopped the suspect vehicle and removed two suspects. In the vehicle officers found evidence suggesting these suspects were responsible for several burglaries. Both suspects were charged with Felony Burglary of Motor Vehicle. One suspect has a criminal history that includes engaging in organized crime and the other suspect was out of jail on bond for murder.

 

 

 

PATROL SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR – Sergeant Jamie King

As the Northwest Division Tactical 2 Unit supervisor, Sergeant Jaime King has managed to assemble, motivate and lead the division’s tactical unit to a record number of felony arrests, calls for service, reports made, drugs seized and violent suspects removed from the streets of Houston in 2017. During Hurricane Harvey’s mayor-imposed citywide nighttime curfew, Sergeant King led his unit in self-initiating 67 calls for service during which 16 suspects were placed in jail, resulting in 27 felonies and 6 misdemeanor charges filed, 116 grams of narcotics seized and 1 pistol recovered. Aggravated Kidnapping, Burglary of a Business, Aggravated Robbery, and Human Trafficking cases were cleared by Sergeant King and his team during those nightshift hours. Sergeant King’s dedication to duty, strong leadership skills and willingness to lead from the front has resulted in his team breaking all previous statistical measures of productivity for a tactical unit at Northwest Division. In 2017 alone, Sergeant King’s team responded to 501 calls for service, wrote 189 reports, filed 243 felony charges and executed 186 warrants resulting in the arrests of some of Houston’s most hardened criminals. Sergeant King has kept his troops safe, professional and highly driven by being adeptly engaged, trustworthy and a skilled mentor to his subordinates.

 

 

SUPPORT SERVICES EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR – Sr. Aircraft Mechanic Jon Vicento

Senior Aircraft Mechanic Jon Vicento has been a Senior Aircraft Mechanic for over 26 years, putting the division and safety of flight crews as the highest priority.  Mr. Vicento ensures the aircraft are maintained to FAA airworthiness standards. In several instances when aircraft had to make unscheduled landings due to mechanical issues, Mr. Vicento would make the scene to assist in returning the aircraft to safe flight.

 

TACTICAL OFFICER OF THE YEAR – Officer Christian Dorton

Officer Christian Dorton is one of the largest contributors to the success of the Northeast Division Tactical Unit. His goal is to identify serial criminals who live and operate in Northeast Houston and then file the best criminal case possible. Officer Dorton coordinates with other law enforcement agencies to aid in the arrest of criminals who have traveled to other jurisdictions to commit their crimes. Officer Dorton has become the recognized expert in criminal jugging crews, predators who follow customers from banks to burglarize or rob them. More than 30 bank jugging suspects were arrested by the Northeast DTU during 2017, totaling 63 Felony and 42 Misdemeanor charges.

 

 

 

UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATOR OF THE YEAR: Officer Kenneth Hett

Officer Kenneth Hett conducted a long term investigation revealing that prostitution and human trafficking was occurring inside a club in Houston. Officer Hett initiated his own investigation and identified four Colombian victims who were being trafficked out of the club and determined that suspects recruited them from Columbia. The suspects put the victims in strip clubs and forced them into signing debt bondage contracts  requiring them to make daily payments toward their debt. The suspects would also threaten to harm their families, forcing them into engaging in commercial sex acts. His tenacity and ability to work with other agencies was instrumental in leading to multiple arrests.

 

 

SPECIALIZED OFFICER OF THE YEAR – Sergeant Edward Godwin

Sergeant Edward Godwin is the Dive Team’s supervisor who coordinates the training and call-out procedures for all his officers. In addition, he is tasked with managing a tremendous amount of high value equipment and facilitates purchasing from the Port and UASI grants which includes equipment and an extensive list of training classes. In 2017, the Dive Team faced multiple challenges, from the 65 dive call outs, to patrolling the Port of Houston, to rescue response to Hurricane Harvey. The Dive Team rescued over 3000 citizens during Hurricane Harvey and unfortunately made 12 recoveries as a result of this devastation.

 

 

CIT OFFICER OF THE YEAR: Officer Stephen Augustine

Officer Stephen Augustine is assigned to the Mental Health Division and is a valued Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) Officer. Officer Augustine consistently manages his uncommitted time by assisting officers throughout the department in handling incidents involving mentally ill complainants, referrals sent out by the Harris Center, conducting Jail Assessments, SWAT scenes and any assingment distributed to him without hesitation. Officer Augustine has shown the ability to handle difficult sitituations in a calm manner, demonstrating patience and self-control with citizens in crisis situations. In 2017, Officer Augustine handled   545 CIT Calls for Service, conducted 100 CIT On-View Investigations and filed 186 Emergency Detention Orders.

 

 

DRT/CSO OF THE YEAR:  Officer Robert White

Officer Robert White has served 29 years at the Southwest Division; 23 of those being assigned to the Differential Response Team/Community Service Unit. Officer White motivates and assists his co-workers with annual department wide events, such as “National Night Out”, “Comida Food Drive”, “Share Your Christmas”, and the “Blue Santa Program”. He regularly assists his supervisor and co-workers with apartment complex, convenience store, and game room inspections. Officer White continues to assist the members of the Southwest Community and successfully completes 16 District DRT investigations each month.

 

 

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER of the Year– Officer Norberto Ramon

During Hurricane Harvey the citizens of Houston fell under immense distress within a short period. Thousands of requests for help were answered by first responders, civilians and other municipal entities. During this tumultuous and hazardous moment in our city’s history, many rose above and beyond their call to duty, including the HPD Lake Patrol Unit. When Officer Norberto Ramon was unable to report to his assigned station due to the high floodwaters,  he reported to the Lake Patrol Unit to assist with their efforts. Officer Ramon, knowing his physical condition, demonstrated a disregard to his own personal preservation to help rescue citizens.

 

 

PROACTIVE INVESTIGATOR OF THE YEAR – Officer Paul Lowrey

In 2015, Officer Paul Lowrey became the case agent in an investigation into a group of violent men in Houston targeting others who were involved in criminal activity to acquire money, assets, and/or immigrants through armed robberies and kidnappings. In March of 2017, Officer Lowrey learned that a member of the group was living in Iowa. Officer Lowrey suspected this man of participating in a 2015 home invasion robbery during which a man was killed. Officer Lowrey and others traveled to Iowa with an arrest warrant and coordinated with federal and local law enforcement to arrest the suspect. During an interview with Officer Lowery, the suspect confessed to the robbery conspiracy as well as the capital murder and named all of his co-defendants. That suspect testified at the trial of the first charged suspect in the capital murder, helping to secure a life sentence. Officer Lowrey and others targeted one of the suspects named in the capital murder. He coordinated the arrest of that man, who subsequently confessed to the capital murder and named his co-defendants as well. To date five people have been charged in that murder which previously had only one uncooperative charged suspect and no additional leads. In April 2017, Officer Lowrey and others discovered information suggesting a group similar to the group in Houston was operating in the Dallas area and was responsible for a string of violent home invasion robberies. Ultimately the Houston and Dallas area groups were found to be operating cooperatively. In May of 2017 an armed home invasion robbery occurred in Houston where one suspect was shot to death, one suspect was wounded, and several suspects escaped. By June of 2017 Officer Lowrey completed work on a string of eight liner room armed robberies that occurred in the Houston area in 2016. Officer Lowrey investigated each of the individual robberies in the series, completed a master report tying them, along with a proactive sting, together and created a prosecutorial presentation package. In 2017, Officer Lowrey and his federal partners provided testimony to a federal grand jury that resulted in federal indictments against eleven members of the robbery crew.  In all, approximately sixty individual charges were filed against the men.

 

 

 

REACTIVE INVESTIGATOR OF THE YEAR – Officer Christopher Elder

Officer Christopher Elder was assigned a case involving an unknown dead man who had been found behind an apartment complex. It appeared this victim had been killed and then burned in an attempt to destroy evidence. Officer Elder interviewed the killers on the day of this assignment, but only later learned their roles while working with agents from the FBI. Officer Elder’s initiative, expertise and professionalism resulted in two suspects being arrested, evidence (including the murder weapons) being recovered and confessions obtained from both suspects. His relentless pursuit of both suspects motivated him to present the information he possessed to the Harris County District Attorney’s office for Capital Murder Charges.

 

 

PARTNERS OF THE YEAR – Officer Robert Segura III and Officer Ashley Kelley

Officers Robert Segura III and Ashley Kelley have been assigned to the South Gessner Division since February 2017, working as a two-man unit in the division’s busiest beat. These officers demonstrate they believe in going the extra mile in completing detailed and thorough investigations, all while maintaining a high standard of responding to calls for service. Their dedication to ensuring citizens’ fear of crime is decreased in the area, is evident in the amount of arrests and investigations they have completed from February to December 2017. Within this time frame, they have charged 79 felony offenses 59 misdemeanor offenses and 181 Class C arrests.

 

 

INVESTIGATIVE SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR – Sergeant Reid Cashdollar

Sergeant Reid Cashdollar is the supervisor of the Highway Interdiction Unit (HIU). HIU is equipped with a state of the art Z Backscatter Van, a Mini Z, various scopes and tools, and numerous training hours to detect, identify, and access hidden compartments in vehicles. The primary mission of the unit is to disrupt criminal smuggling organizations transporting contraband in, around, and through the Houston area. Sergeant Cashdollar works side by side with his officers on a daily basis, working the freeway and performing numerous traffic stops for violations. Many of Sergeant Cashdollar’s traffic stops lead to complex criminal investigations ranging from the exploitation of juveniles to narcotics trafficking. 107 words  108

 

 

TECHNICAL SUPPORT EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR – Officer Richard Gonzales

The Auto Dealers Detail is currently utilizing a 10 year old ACCESS Database, that was built in-house, to auction off vehicles. SQL is now a standard programing language for accessing and manipulating databases.  Officer Richard Gonzales welcomed the challenge to teach himself SQL and began to develop, program, and work on special projects. The first major project Officer Gonzales undertook was to update the Auction Program. In 2017, Officer Gonzales began the painstaking task of converting several of the ACCESS tables within the Auction Program to SQL. By converting the tables to SQL, the performance, speed, reliability and sustainability of the Auction Program was significantly improved. This project was a major risk management issue that was highlighted during the Auto Dealers Detail ISO 2017 audit.  138 words   125

 

 

 

CIVILIAN TECHNICAL EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR –

Criminal Intelligence Analyst Barry Fosberg has developed a system of calculating a numeric score for ranking criminals based on their criminal history and tendencies towards violence. He has developed an interactive “by Means of Firearm Report” which has assisted the HPD Command Staff geographically locate violent crimes that occur citywide. In November 2017, Sergeant Justin Kennedy with Gang Division advised that information provide to them by Mr. Fosberg about the top 10 most violent offenders in 14 District contributed to felony arrests and the discovery of numerous criminal associations. 89 words

 

 

ADMINISTRATIVE PARA/PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR – Administrative Associate Jose Rodriguez –

Administrative Associate Jose Rodriguez is responsible for many tasks vital to the continued function of the Financial Crimes Unit. In 2017, the FCU received more than 16,000 incidents comprised of forty-four unique offense titles. Mr. Rodriguez personally read each of these incident reports and supplements and identified patterns of criminal activity, researched related incidents and linked those incidents utilizing several crime analysis databases. In 2017, Mr. Rodriguez provided assistance to hundreds of complainants, in addition to a host of outside law enforcement agencies. His expertise and counsel, combined with his attention to detail and dedication to duty is highly valued by the FCU investigators.

 

 

PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR – Administrative Assistant John Serrano

Administrative Assistant John Serrano is HPD’s administrator for the Houston Employee Assessment and Review (HEAR), processes open records data requests and JPR’s. As the HEAR administrator, Mr. Serrano understands that HEAR is an important process which sets clear expectations for employees and supervisors, provides continual feedback and shows employees how they contribute to the city’s overall performance and goals. In addition to HEAR, Mr. Serrano also compiles statistical data for open records request for various outside agencies. He handles these requests with ease and is often consulted by employees in the unit for his suggestions on gathering the correct data.  101

 

 

CIVILIAN SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR – Administrative Supervisor Maria Ponce

Maria Ponce is an Administrative Supervisor in the Open Records Unit. Ms. Ponce has proven herself as an effective supervisor that is highly motivated to make sure the personnel under her area are performing their duties in an accurate and professional manner. She takes time to work and listen to her employees and leads by example, providing them guidance. Ms. Ponce’s leadership and work performance is evident by how she is entrusted to handle some of the more complex requests. In addition to handling her workload, she is always willing to step forward and go the extra mile in assisting other employees in the unit.

 

 

ADMINISTRATIVE CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR: Sgt. Robert Boehmke

Sergeant Robert Boehmke is assigned to the Administrative Unit at the Southwest Division. On August 26, 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and flooded the former Southwest Division located next to a Meyerland area sewage plant. The entire complex took on approximately three feet of contaminated water. When the water receded, Sergeant Boehmke was able to report to the division and began the arduous task of inventorying all property and equipment at the complex. In October 2017, Sergeant Boehmke began the process of transferring operations to the new Southwest Division. Assisting his administrative team, he ensured computers, equipment and furniture were in place and operational for the first official November 1, 2017, 6 a.m. rollcall. 114 words 125

 

 

MID MANAGER OF THE YEAR – Lt. Justin Wood

Lieutenant Justin Wood became the commander of the Dive Team and the Hostage Negotiation Team (HNT) in February 2017. He began training and excelled at diving, receiving multiple diving certifications. He is currently the only lieutenant in the history of the Dive Team to become a fully operational Public Safety Diver. As the commander for the HNT, Lieutenant Wood has sought training and worked diligently to hone his skills as a negotiator. He has done this to understand the job and the challenges those under his command face. Lieutenant Wood has quickly adapted to his roles as command of two very unique and specialized units. 105

 

 

 

CIVILIAN MANAGER OF THE YEAR – Administration Manager Yolanda Castillo

Ms. Yolanda Castillo is assigned to Emergency Communications as an Administration Manager. In addition to her regular administrative duties, Ms. Castillo serves on the Awards Selection Committee, oversees the hiring of Senior Police Telecommunicator, is an ISO process owner, and is one of the key supervisors over the Dispatch Training Program. When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Ms. Castillo worked over 100 hours without overtime pay due to her exempt status. She took lead over ECD’s payroll documentation during that time and assisted other divisions with payroll issues. Ms. Castillo conducted training at the Southeast Jail Facility to ensure their overtime was properly documented and entered numerous overtime slips from other divisions into the system. 113 words 114

 

 

 

MANAGER OF THE YEAR – Captain Michael Faulhaber

Captain Michael Faulhaber has been the Westside Division Captain since January 2017. During this time he proposed and enacted multiple crime initiatives which have had a significant impact on crime in the area and officer moral. Early initiatives by the Westside Gang Unit focused on two gangs due to their aggravated robbery activities. Numerous arrests were made that positively affected the aggravated robbery numbers. Efforts against several gangs primarily focused on their drug trade operations and fight for control which contributed to several gang related murders. Collaborative efforts with Narcotics, Homicide and Federal partners have led to the successful execution of arrest and search warrants, including the arrest of 12 individuals associated with a gang drug house. 116

 

 

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Police Administrator Sheila Duncan

In 2004, Ms. Sheila Duncan was promoted to Police Administrator in Records Division, where she continues to  serve. Under Ms. Duncan’s leadership, Records Division has seen many successes, namely ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification; utilization of surveys to obtain feedback to gauge performance; excellent audit performances (namely FBI, DPS and ISO); completion of the coding of the UCR under two periods of extreme conditions (limited time and excessive amount of reports); the successful conversion of operations to the current RMS (Records Management System); and her ability to inspire and encourage her employees to continue to perform at their best in order to accomplish their daily task. 112 words

 

 

 

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Officer Jorge Gaytan

Officer Jorge Gaytan was assigned to the Training Division in the In-Service, Cadet, Field Training Sections and the Officer Safety Unit. He authored countless lesson plans and taught HPD employees as well as those from other agencies around the country and the world. Officer Gaytan was often called upon to testify in Federal and District courts to successfully defend HPD’s training and lesson plans taught by HPD. For the last 15 years, he committed himself to the cause of helping others through his work as a volunteer negotiator with the Hostage Negotiation Team (HNT). On October 22, 2016, Officer Gaytan transferred to a full-time position with the HNT. He has raised the level of training to HNT through his profound experience as an instructor and author of lesson plans. 126 129

 

 

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Officer James Hudson

In 1991, Officer James Hudson was one of the first officers assigned to the newly created Clear Lake Division and continues to work there today. While at the division, Officer Hudson has been assigned to the tactical unit, evening shift patrol, and is currently the administrative officer. Officer Hudson completes an enormous amount of administrative reports and his work ethic is such that he is always ensuring that the needs of the division are met. Despite being in the top ten for seniority at the division, Officer Hudson was the first to volunteer to work night shift during the mobilization for Hurricane Harvey. Over the course of 27 years, Officer Hudson has exemplified the highest standards of service to the department by virtue of diligence, dedication and character. 130 words 129

 

 

 

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Officer Gregory Shelton

Officer Gregory Shelton has been assigned to the Northeast Division for over 34 years; working much of the time in patrol showing dedication to duty and concern for the citizens he served. For the last fourteen years Officer Shelton has regularly followed-up on various cases in which he had conducted the initial investigation and has solved almost every case he investigated. In 2006, he was assigned as the Investigative Liaison Officer working closely with the investigative divisions. In 2016, Officer Shelton was awarded the 100 Club’s Officer of the Year Award for his investigative work that led to the identification, arrest and successful prosecution of a serial nighttime residential burglar/sexual predator who was terrorizing the northeast area. 117 words