2014 Employee Recognition Awards - Justice

GOLD - Shared by members of the Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team

Left to Right:
Detective Sergeant Peter Hansen,
    Sheriff's Office
Sergeant Stefan Fish,
    Sheriff's Office
Deputy Dustin Silva,
    Sheriff's Office
Inspector Mario Sulay,
    District Attorney's Office
Inspector George Rivera,
    District Attorney's Office

Deputy Probation Officer Julio Juarez,
    Probation Department

The Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team is a multi-jurisdictional task force comprised of peace officers and support staff from local, state and federal agencies. The mission of the team is to reduce harm to the community caused by gang activity and the manufacture, trafficking, and use of illegal narcotics, with a special focus on safeguarding children who are endangered by these activities. The team's Gang Task Force was developed in part to target and arrest gang members and subgroups, maximize efforts through intelligence and data analysis, and increase law enforcement efficiency through training, while also serving as a resource for law enforcement staff countywide. The expertise of each member of the team has expanded the County's ability to bring together key partners to process, discuss, and disseminate gang-related information. The impact of the work of the team in 2014 is evident through more than 262 criminal arrests (which included 182 felony arrests), 186 local agency assists, 440 probation and parole compliance checks on supervised subjects, and the seizure of 83 weapons, including 59 firearms. The team also confiscated more than 3.6 kilos of hard drugs, 2 kilos of hash, and 549 pounds of marijuana. Each member of the team is to be commended for their successful efforts to address the impacts of gangs in our community and for their diligence in combating the manufacture, sale, and illegal use of narcotics.

SILVER - Shared by members of the Sheriff's Office and Personnel Department Recruitment and Hiring Team

Left to Right:
Christine McAllister, Personnel Department
Salina Flores, Personnel Department
Nikki Ottaviano, Sheriff's Office
Laura Hernandez, Sheriff's Office
Lieutenant Kelly Kent, Sheriff's Office
Jacob Cooper, Sheriff's Office
Liset Vargas, Sheriff's Office
Lisa Marr, Sheriff's Office

In January of 2014, the Sheriff's Office had a large number of vacancies for Deputy Sheriffs and Correctional Officers, which presented challenges for two different County departments and involved a variety of processes that need to be completed in order to fill these key positions. Team members from the Sheriff's Office and the Personnel Department determined that by increasing communication, clearly defining responsibilities, and employing cooperative planning efforts, the hiring process could become much more efficient. As a result of the outstanding work of each member of the team, over 1,400 applications were processed, 460 candidates were tested and interviewed, and hiring was completed for 23 Deputy positions, 11 Correctional Officers, and 7 professional staff positions. While in previous hiring scenarios this process would have taken up to six months to complete, the team was able to reduce that time to an average of three months, and in some cases even as little as six weeks. The team processed and hired 15 Deputy Sheriff candidates at the same time, sending the largest number of candidates to a single academy in the history of the Sheriff's Office. Each member of the team is to be commended for their individual efforts to achieve this outstanding level of success.

BRONZE - Shared by the members of the Probation Department's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Site Visit Faculty Team

Back row, Left to Right:
Cesar Estrada
Melinda Sutter
Sara Ryan
Jennifer Buesing
Diane Culcasi
Jennifer Mikkelson
Jorge Cortez
Jose Flores

Front row, Left to Right:
Jorge Romo
Alicia Ybarra
Yolanda Perez-Logan
Gina Castaneda
Teresa Gonzalez
Lisa Ramos

Christine Bennett

Not Pictured:
Julia Feldman
Hugo Calderon


Through the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, known as JDAI, jurisdictions participating in the initiative are sharply reducing reliance on secure detention for youth awaiting trial or pending placement to correctional programs. The Probation Department became a JDAI site in 1997, and a National JDAI Model Site in 2004, requiring that the County serve as a host site to support other jurisdictions seeking to replicate JDAI in their own communities. In 2014, team members provided technical assistance and traintraining on the implementation of the eight core strategies that drive JDAI for delegations from 22 counties and the first federally recognized Indian Tribal Court to join the initiative. The visiting delegations report they have benefitted significantly from learning how to increase collaboration with law enforcement and community stakeholders, join forces to seek funding to provide detention alternatives, implement culturally sensitive programs, and partner with mental health and community providers to enhance counseling and life skills services. Delegation representatives also commended the team for the outstanding level of training provided, for their willingness to share their expertise, and for their excellent coaching. Each member of the team deserves recognition for their commitment to excellence on behalf of the County and the community and for their support for juvenile justice reform efforts across the country.