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VCSO Honors Best of the Quarter

Date Added: February 07, 2018 4:15 pm

Laura Williams
Office of Public Affairs and Media Relations


Five members of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office were recognized Wednesday for their exemplary work in the last quarter of 2017.

Deputy of the Quarter Mark Willetts, who primarily serves in the Marine Unit, is being honored for serving wherever he’s needed. During the fourth quarter of 2017, Deputy Willetts was assigned to work at the Justice Center and substitute at the DeLand airport, while still handling his normal duties. In addition, he serves on the Dive Team, coordinating unit demonstrations, training, coordinating special multiagency training, attending many call-outs and maintaining equipment.  “Dep. Willetts is constantly adjusting his schedule to meet the needs of the department, at the expense of his own time. He does this with a smile and without hesitation. He is one of the unsung heroes of the department,” Sgt. Ted Richard wrote.

Detective of the Quarter Nicholas Shephard was recognized for excelling as a detective and as a leading member of the West Volusia Narcotics Task Force. Throughout 2017, Detective Shephard organized numerous operations including prostitution, narcotics-related search warrants, and drug purchases using confidential informants and undercover detectives. These operations required coordination with other agencies as well as different units within the Sheriff’s Office. During 2017, the narcotics unit began assisting Major Case and CID with cases involving overdose deaths related to heroin and fentanyl. While investigating a heroin overdose death June 10, Detective Shephard immediately coordinated with multiple units within the Sheriff’s Office. Detective Shephard’s planning and execution of this operation laid the groundwork for future detectives to investigate similar overdose cases.

In the Court Services Section, Employee of the Quarter Melissa Nutall was honored for her dedication and meticulous job performance during the security system upgrade for the Volusia County Courthouse. Melissa was assigned to reorganize all the security badge groups for all employees working within the courthouse. Melissa worked closely with the Smart Watch representatives and helped to improve and streamline the process. Her work helped facilitate the tightening of security and improved the efficiency of the new employee screening process. Melissa’s enthusiasm and commitment set a great example for other employees.

On the Communications side, Telecomunicator of the Quarter goes to Shift Supervisor Cydney Hunchard, for her friendly personality, constructive attitude and excellence as a supervisor. Her supervisor noted she takes an active interest in the division by participating in recruitment events and assisting with the new training classes. She has worked her way through the ranks, being promoted to shift supervisor in 2017. Cydney “has maintained a stellar attendance record despite the amount of overtime work required here (803.5 hours for her in 2017),” Patricia McDonnell, communications Alpha Shift supervisor, wrote. Cydney brings a positive attitude to the job of supervisor and represents the agency well both to the public and within the workplace.

In addition, two Unit Commendations were awarded to the following groups:

1)            For their dedication, teamwork and determination in investigating the repeated sexual abuse of a 7-year-old victim in Volusia County, the first Unit Commendation Bar was presented to:  Lt. Kurt Schoeps; Detective Chastity Burke; Detective Amanda L. Cloutier; Detective Keith Earney; Detective Dennis Gonzalez; Detective Lance LaMee; Detective Dennis Miller; Detective Christopher Teague; and Victim Advocates Megan Maureen Daly and JoAnn Petersen.

The Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) immediately launched an investigation last fall after receiving a tip about the abuse case. Additional detectives joined the case in hopes of securing a search warrant and locating evidence to confirm the abuse. The team located photographic and video evidence of abuse that implicated the suspect and his wife in abusing the victim as well as other children. Ultimately the suspect was arrested and charged with capital sexual battery and lewd or lascivious molestation, while his wife was also arrested and charged with principal to capital sexual battery, lewd or lascivious exhibition and child abuse/neglect offenses. An additional 26 charges were brought against the pair. The Department of Children and Families removed the children and terminated parental rights.

2)            A Unit Commendation went to these multiagency members for their teamwork last fall in investigating multiple conveyance burglaries and auto thefts that impacted the entire county.  The honorees are from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, the Daytona Beach Police Department, and the State Attorney’s Office:  Sergeant Todd Smith; Detective Brian Howard; Detective Jayson Paul; Detective Timothy Pullin; Detective Miguel A. Roman; Detective Daniel Smith; Detective Jason Michael Turner; Detective Heather Kimberly Welch; Program Manager Carla Quann; Crime Analyst Madiha Saleem; Management Specialists Lindsey Campbell,  Deborah Ivie and Danielle Stone; Daytona Beach Police Department members: Sgt. Joseph Sellix, Officer Robert Barnes, Officer Michael Catalano, Officer Luz Gonzalez and Officer Gerald Skinner; and Assistant State Attorney Amy L. Walker.

This investigation began Nov. 14, 2017, with the VCSO Deltona Detective unit and the Volusia Crime Center. With the assistance of Daytona Beach Police Officer Robert Barnes and VCSO Program Manager/Juvenile Services Director Carla Quann, three suspects were identified. Using covert surveillance and a coordinated team effort, ultimately four people were arrested in 43 felonies. These agency individuals are being honored for their professionalism, teamwork and perseverance to solve this countywide crime spree.

Tina Crane, who has served in the VCSO’s Communications Center since 2004, was promoted to Communications Coordinator.

Volunteer of the Quarter Patsy Rains was honored as Volunteer of the Quarter for her motivation, initiative and commitment to the Sheriff’s Office. In addition to patrol, she trains new members, handles recruiting, reviews monthly patrol logs, compiles the District 3 South COP monthly report, serves as vice president and participates in several other events.

Sheriff Mike Chitwood recognized all the honorees during an awards ceremony Wednesday morning at the VCSO’s Stephen Saboda Training Center in Daytona Beach. Afterward he told the group his first year as sheriff has flown by and thanked all for their tireless work.  “I can’t tell you of all the respect and admiration I have for everyone in this room for your work for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office day in and out.”

 The Sheriff’s Office congratulates all the award winners and sincerely appreciates their efforts. 

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