Thursday, July 7, 2016

CBI Recognizes Excellence at Annual Awards Ceremony

On July 7, 2016, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation celebrated the excellent work of its teams over the past year, honored employees for distinguished service, and recognized outstanding employees of the year.

Army SSgt (Ret) Sal Guinta encourages the audience
to "give 100 percent every single chance you have."
The CBI Awards Ceremony, held at the Lakewood Cultural Center, featured an inspiring keynote speech by US Army SSgt (Ret) Salvatore Guinta, a Colorado resident who is the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor since Vietnam.

Salvatore recounted his journey from 17-year-old fast food worker to self-perceived "weakest link" on his army team to decorated war hero. Inspired by the events of 9/11, Guinta entered the army in 2003. Assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Guinta deployed to Italy and then served two combat tours to Afghanistan lasting 27 months. His breathtaking and courageous actions on the night of Oct. 25, 2007, earned him the nation's highest military honor, among other awards. (Read the full story here.)

Supremely humble despite his many accolades and ability to overcome astounding adversity, Giunta offered the audience this advice: "Give 100 percent every single chance you have."

"All you have to know is that you gave 100 percent every day of your life, and you'll have no regrets," he said.

KDVR Reporter Deborah Takahara served as emcee and presented 17 awards to CBI employees:

Team Excellence Awards

  • Operation Cross Country IX - Human Trafficking: This multi-agency collaborative effort involved an undercover sting in a Colorado casino that led to multiple arrests of suspects involved in human trafficking and the rescue of one juvenile female who was taken into protective custody.
  • Drug Enforcement Operations in Colorado Gaming Communities: CBI agents collaborated with West Metro Drug Task Force investigators and the Cripple Creek Police Department to identify individuals selling drugs in Colorado's Gaming Communities. Multiple undercover operations resulted in three different drug distribution cases and two separate narcotics cases being filed. 
  • Aurora Theater Shooting: CBI Forensic Scientists Carol Crowe and Dale Higashi performed detailed and extensive testing and analysis of evidence collected in the 2012 Theater Shooting investigation and testified in the trial that was held in the summer of 2015. 
  • Candelario Homicide Investigation: CBI Investigative and forensic services teams engaged in methodical interviewing and evidence testing to determine the true circumstances surrounding the murder of a Walsenburg woman. The victim's husband had reported a detailed account of a home invasion robbery where intruders allegedly killed his wife; but thanks in large part to the superior investigative and forensic science work by CBI workers, the husband was identified as a suspect, tried, and found guilty.
  • Operation Hot Brass: When guns are not recovered in the wake of a crime, southern Colorado law enforcement agencies can now submit spent cartridge casings to the CBI, which tests them and uploads an image from the casing into a national database operated by the ATF so they can be compared to casings in the system from other crimes. In less than a year of operation, the CBI received 230 cases, turned them around in an average of less than 2.5 days, and provided 61 investigative leads on links between cases.
    Honorees of the Team Excellence Awards.
  • Crime Scene Response Unit: In 2015, the CBI Crime Scene Response Unit responded to more than 100 incidents across the state (a significant spike), achieved CBI's first-ever crime scene accreditation, and implemented state-of-the-art technological advances to enhance the quantity and quality of data available to assist with investigations.
  • Testing of Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Evidence: When Colorado Legislature passed HB 13-1020, law enforcement agencies faced a mandate to test more than 3,500 untested sexual assault kits within a strict deadline. The CBI Forensic Services team worked with hundreds of Colorado law enforcement agencies to receive the sexual assault evidence and prepare the items for testing at outside accredited labs. The CBI Biological Science team reviewed reports from the tests and uploaded more than 1,500 profiles into a national database to be compared with existing offenders' DNA in the system -- leading to a number of cases where sex assault suspects were identified and charged. 
  • CBI Instacheck: 2015 marked a near-historic year, with the InstaCheck system seeing double-digit increases in the number of requests from previous years. Nevertheless, the dedicated workers of this team met the demand, providing excellent customer service and public protection in a timely manner. 
  • Park County Officer-Involved Shooting Response: Morew than two dozen CBI employees from several work units responded to assist with an incident involving three sheriff's deputies shot during an eviction process in Bailey in February 2016. The team organized volumes of information, conducted dozens of interviews, secured and processed the comprehensive crime scene, and conducted multiple news conference. 
Medals of Distinguished Service
Medals of Distinguished Service were presented to outstanding individuals who demonstrated dedication, attention to detail, leadership and commitment in their work on specific projects or efforts. Read their individual bios in the CBI Award Ceremony Program.
  • Dale Higashi
  • Melissa Grass
  • Yvonne "Missy" Woods
  • Lance Allen
  • Clint Thomason
  • Shawn West
  • Jodi Wright
  • Kathleen Fetherston
Outstanding Employees of the Year
CBI honored three exceptional employees for their outstanding contributions over the course of the year. Read their individual bios in the CBI Award Ceremony Program.

  • Chris Schaefer
  • Stephanie Olofson
  • Pat Crouch

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