Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Honoring those who Embody our Values: CDPS Presents 2018 Executive Director's Awards

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS) Executive Director Stan Hilkey presented awards to individuals and teams who exemplify the department's values and live the CDPS mission on a daily basis.

The 2nd annual CDPS Executive Director's Awards honored employees in the following categories:

Engagement Award

An engaged workforce is critical to our ability to deliver services. So critical, in fact, that it is written into the very mission of CDPS. The Engagement Award recognizes someone who fosters an environment that promotes collaboration, communication, trust, and respect for differences. These award winners contribute towards departmental goals and place team goals above personal desires.

Nicolette Starkey
As the trainer for the CBI Identification Unit, Nicolette was responsible for training a large cohort of temp aides for CBI’s Arapahoe project. This project entails processing 100,000 criminal identification cards within a 9-month timeframe. To give you an idea how outstanding she is at engaging employees, Nicolette was nominated by THREE separate aides for this award.

Her trainees describe a leader with “wit, patience, understanding, and positive attitude.” Despite the high demand for her time, she is consistently available, flexible, and proactive in reaching out to help new employees. She mentors her trainees to be problem-solvers and encourages them to develop and use good judgment.

Nicolette understands the importance of trusting and empowering her trainees, supporting them with her in-depth knowledge while never micro-managing. In addition to training aides on the “hows” of their jobs, she also ensures they understand the goals and objectives of the project so that they can be engaged in the “why” behind the important work.

Raechel Aderete
Raechel is a champion of department-wide cross-collaboration. As staff to the Sex Offender Management Board, she frequently engages staff assigned to other CDPS task forces and boards to determine best practices and solutions for challenges. Raechel frequently partners with the School Safety Resource Center to provide community education and training regarding sexting-related issues. This helps improve the safety of many Colorado youth. Raechel also collaborates across units and departments to support the Stand Up Colorado campaign to reduce relationship violence among juveniles.

Raechel’s collaborative spirit, positive attitude and solution-focused approach draw colleagues to her throughout the department. She eagerly takes on special projects to further the department’s mission, regardless of her workload. She is a positive force within CDPS and operationalizes our mission through her ambassadorship and collaborative efforts.

Excellence in Leadership Award

This award recognizes leaders who pave the way for others to shine. Recipients help others strive to meet their goals and achieve success. These individuals establish a vision for others follow; they seek challenging opportunities, and inspire others to share those challenges. 

Cpl. Chris Sandoval
Chris leads by example. He expects excellence of himself and others, and sets clear expectations. He is humble and willing to admit his mistakes. He is transparent, open and available. He mentors and guides his employees through positive encouragement and guidance. He walks the walk, working just as hard or harder than anyone on his team. And he puts his staff before himself.

Chris is usually on duty before anyone else, and he is often the first to volunteer to respond to a crash. His attitude has inspired his team to follow suit. Members jump at the opportunity to step up or to help one another.
Honesty, professionalism, courtesy, honor, respect, and humility thrive in the environment he creates. In the office Chris encourages members to take a positive, problem-solving attitude. In turn, the Troopers around him are motivated to go out and have a positive impact on the public.

Devon Rhoads 
In 2017, Devon was tapped to stand up a “Watch Center” to gather, analyze and distribute information and intelligence to CDPS leadership and external partners. By the time he was asked to head the effort, only two weeks remained to get the Watch Center operational.

During this time, Devon worked diligently to coordinate all of the moving pieces to successfully establish the Watch Center.  He did this by collaborating with CIAC personnel and representatives of other divisions who had a role in the Watch Center.  Devon developed an implementation plan, administrative manual, 24/7 staffing schedule, and work processes to ensure the Watch Center was a success.

As Devon will tell you, he did not do this alone. This success is the result of ALL of the CIAC members contributing, along with members of CSP, CBI and DFPC. So, if any one in here played a role in launching the Watch Center, please stand up so we can acknowledge your contribution. [pause for applause]. Thank you.

The Watch Center project is just one example of how Devon exemplifies our guiding principles and core values. Devon focuses on recruiting, empowering and supporting the right people to get the job done in a way that meets the expectations of customers. His leadership is inspirational and directly improves our ability to safeguard lives and provide diverse public safety services to local communities.

Lisa Yoshida
Lisa exemplifies the qualities that a good leader should have: integrity, positive attitude, honesty, and openness. Lisa exhibits passion for CBI’s work and a desire to make CBI the best that it can be. She has earned a reputation for great ideas and hard work. Her open communication invites trust and collaboration. Lisa is able to use these qualities to influence the people around her to accomplish the goals of the organization.

As a Training, Research and Development Manager, Lisa is the first point of contact for all new hires to CBI’s Forensics Services.She adapts her teaching and communication style for a wide range of new employees, from people just starting their careers to seasoned professionals.

Lisa also manages all research done by Forensic Services. She acts as a liaison, mentor and coach for staff conducting research projects. Her guiding hand has helped ensure many successful research projects.

Lisa has played an integral role in achieving the organizational goals of Forensic Services and CBI’s Strategic Planning Initiative (SPI). Her efforts have a direct impact on the amount of cases that Forensic Services can produce.

Vaughn Jones
The nomination for Vaughn Jones was nothing short of poetic:

“When I think about my time working with Chief Jones over the last 3.5 years, two words come to mind: honor and integrity. Jones is a regular person like you and me with wants and worries. Yet he stands taller than most of us. He is a protector, a brother, a sounding board, he is a
firefighter through and through. He is a man who values life because he has seen too much death.

I have seen him make some very difficult decisions -- decisions that only a good leader can make. I have seen him spend time away from the people he loves most in this world with the mission of serving his State. He sacrifices his personal time for the good of others. Chief Jones doesn't preach the brotherhood of man. He lives it.

Chief Jones is highly skilled in communicating with his employees, colleagues and superiors in a way that others cannot. He demonstrates decency, self-respect and moral soundness. Chief Jones has a great deal of integrity and that is seen in the decisions he makes and the way he protects his employees. He wants the best for his employees at every level, and genuinely cares about them.

Vaughn has dramatically impacted this entire organization. Specifically, he build this section of DFPC from the ground up, growing it from a handful of people to over 100 members serving the state. From aviation to ground resources to mitigation programs, Chief Jones has built and will continue to create one of the leading wildland agencies in the country.”

"GSD” Award

The name of this award comes straight from Director Hilkey and his Western upbringing in a world where people know what needs to be done, and they hunker down and Get….Stuff Done. The “GSD” Award recognizes an individual or team for their ability to Get “Stuff” Done in order to make a significant impact towards helping move initiatives, goals, and objectives of the organization forward.

Debbie Goerlitz
When Procurement’s fiscal year-end process kicked into high-gear in April, the team was short-handed. During this time, Procurement receives daily pushes from every division of CDPS. This year in particular, the already-shorthanded team experienced another member leaving the agency for a different career. Debbie took on more than half of that team-member’s contracts. It isn’t easy to complete a projects midway after another person has started the work. But Debbie picked up the slack and made sure everything got done in a timely manner. She completed more than 200 Procurement tasks between April and June. This is more than twice the amount usually performed by each Procurement agent in the year-end process.

On top of that, Debbie helped complete multiple long-term contract projects. With Debbie’s help, Procurement experienced one of the cleanest fiscal year-ends to date. And in the midst of getting so much done, she provided outstanding customer service, fostering stronger relationships with internal CDPS customers.

Direct-to-DNA Workflow Project Team
Lance Allen
Teresa Cheromcha
Jennifer Dahlberg
Megan Duge
Melissa Grass
Sarah Haugrud
Gina Mann
Hillary Manger
Kayleigh Matook
Justin Maxwell
Sarah Miller
Lindsey Roup
Caitlin Rogers
Stefanie Trahey
Chiara Wuensch

At the end of 2017, the CBI E11 team set out to explore a new “direct-
to-DNA” workflow to make sexual assault kit testing more efficient and effective.

The E11 team consists of analysts at all of the CBI labs. Caitlin Rogers researched and created the workflow to be approved by the E11 group. Justin Maxwell created a metrics mechanism to easily track cases and stats as the project moved along.

Pueblo Lab staff piloted the new workflow over a three-month period,
completing about 80 cases. They tracked data throughout the pilot and found that the new workflow increased the net percentage of eligible DNA profiles for CODIS entry by 18 percent. As a result, by July 2018 this workflow was implemented statewide by CBI as a standard procedure for sex assault kit analysis.

This team implemented a more efficient, scientifically supported process and also improved their reporting results to better meet the needs of law enforcement agencies. CBI can now better assist in investigations to solve more sex assault crimes in an efficient manner.

Innovation Award

This award is given for implementing a cutting-edge, creative solution that provides new benefits to the department or the community. 

Caitlin Rogers
Caitlin Rogers was part of the GSD team. She was nominated separately for the enormous, innovative role she played in making that project possible.

Caitlin is a CBI Forensic Services Bio/DNA analyst. She researched, designed and implemented the new Direct-to-DNA workflow for CBI Forensic Services.

Caitlin talked to scientists and technical leads at laboratories across the U.S. and Canada to develop a solution to address this issue. She analyzed screening tests and downstream results, questioning the way we’ve always done things to see if there was room for improvement. She then developed a series of workflows to change CBI’s entire testing process to make it more thorough and reliable.

At the end of the pilot program, CBI determined that the workflow Caitlin developed was a success. It resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of cases with a profile being entered into CODIS – an essential metric in measuring the success of DNA cases.

The workflow Caitlin developed helps address the backlog of sexual assault kits at CBI as well as increase success rates in obtaining usable DNA profiles. This workflow puts us at the leading edge of forensic laboratories nationwide.

CODIS Project Team 
Alfritch Anderson
Robert Barnes
Rachel Harmon
Steve Holland
Dave Montoya
Jose Ontiveros
Pam Schaner
Josh Ward.

CODIS, or the Combined DNA Index System, is the FBI’s criminal justice DNA database. The system contains DNA profiles contributed by federal, state, and local forensic labs. Members of OIT, CBI and CJIS partnered with the FBI on a first-in-the country project to establish more efficient, centralized IT support for Colorado’s system and to ensure its continuity of operations.

Nationwide, this had never been done before. The project involved reconfiguring six stand-alone servers and network connections into a centralized location. This allowed for a single location for IT support over the entire state of Colorado. The old, decentralized system required an on-site CBI forensic scientist to patch the operating system, update the antivirus, maintain connectivity and patch the software. Now the entire network is maintained by OIT. This allows forensic scientists to focus on their core, mission-essential duties, while IT professionals take care of their area of expertise in maintaining this technology.

This project also established a separate disaster recovery site in case of emergency. The disaster recovery site is also the first of its kind. Replication occurs every 15 minutes, ensuring no loss of data and safeguarding the continuity of operations for CODIS state-wide.

This project was not only an example of innovation, but an excellent model of collaboration across divisions and agencies.

Superior Service Award

This award recognizes someone who provides excellent customer service, taking care of their internal or external customers quickly and efficiently. These award winners find answers, handle issues, and resolve problems to keep customers satisfied. 

Ruth Strauss
This year, when DFPC received funding for additional, statewide regional fire training staff, they had to quickly mobilize to get the new employees hired as close to July 1 as possible. DFPC had to quickly write the PDQs, panel and advertise the positions, interview, make selections, negotiate salary, conduct background checks and onboard the new employees in a short timeframe.

Ruth Strauss went above and beyond her job duties in providing outstanding service to get these positions filled, from start through finish. She provided helpful guidance and was very responsive with critical feedback that helped make it possible to attract quality candidates. She worked with DFPC staff to develop a quality assessment relevant to the job, and she helped develop a rigorous fire training candidate assessment. In June, she traveled with DFPC staff to conduct candidate interviews and assessments in Clifton, Ignacio, Windsor and Arvada. All this was in addition to her normal HR duties within the hiring process.

Although this was a very time-compressed hiring process, Ruth ensured DFPC complied fully with all rules and policies. She maintained constant communication every step of the way, providing timely and insightful guidance. These positions are imperative to the success of many of DFPC’s programs. Ruth’s attention to detail allowed the division to identify and hire incredible talent who will help drive the mission forward for years to come.

Sally Bouwman 
Sally’s roll as payroll manager means she has contact with virtually every member of CDPS. As you know, pay is a very important thing for people. Sally ensures that her interactions with employees about their payroll concerns consistently end on a positive note. She is consistently calm, patient and positive. She approaches questions from the perspective of how to get to “yes.” And even when she cannot get to “yes,” Sally has a remarkable ability to clearly explain why certain things are the way they must be, and can leave people feeling good about the outcome.

Sally brings her positivity with her to various challenging changes, such as Kronos and DPA’s bi-weekly pay implementation effort. She demonstrates concern and sensitivity for the needs of 7K employees, listening to and representing their particular needs to project managers. Sally serves her internal customers by advocating on their behalf to implementation teams. In short, she truly listens and makes sure her customers feel heard.

Ride for the Brand Award

This award was inspired by Director Hilkey’s experience with ranches, where dedicated workers put in long hours, hard work, a lot of sweat, and sometimes blisters and bruises for the sake of their ranch. The “Ride for the Brand” Award recognizes CDPS members for that same sort of poignant commitment to our mission, vision and values. These award winners consistently take a stand on behalf of the department’s core tenets, and are passionately motivated to make a difference on behalf of the organization as a whole. 

Sgt. Joy Grissom
As the sergeant serving in continuing education at the CSP academy, Joy saw a need for a multi-discipline event to promote safety in the Denver-metro community. She worked very hard to launch a successful, safety fair. The safety fair includes approximately 60 area agencies from a broad spectrum of public safety agencies.

More than 2,500 community members attended the most recent fair and were exposed to a wide variety of safety information. Families attending the fair could have their car seat inspected or installed and received a wide variety of public safety messages while having a great time.

In addition to providing an opportunity for public safety agencies to interact with the public, the fair also provided a platform to connect them with each other and inspire future opportunities to collaborate. This event created a very positive image of participating agencies and showcased Colorado State Patrol’s leadership within the public safety realm.

Gabby Reed
Gabby Reed is the Legislative Liaison for CDPS. She represents the department’s interests in legislative matters. If you understand anything about how our budgets work, you know that this is critical work.

Gabby works with 100 different legislators, the Governor’s Office, CDPS members in all divisions, and various stakeholders on a wide variety of public safety issues in the legislature.

Gabby consistently works to support the department’s mission and has exceptional customer service as it relates to internal and external relationships. She knows the importance of relationships and delivers timely responses to key stakeholders. Due to her excellent management of these relationships and her outstanding understanding of the various complex issues within CDPS, Gabby has a great reputation and is the go-to for many situations and legislative issues. She excels at implementing strategic approaches in order to maintain a high success rate for CDPS. Gabby has played a huge role in maintaining a high standard for our department’s reputation among legislators and stakeholders.

CBI Blagg Case Team
Jana Bates
Teresa Cheromcha
Cindy Kramer
Sarah Miller.

From 2014 to 2018, Jana and Cindy helped prosecutors from the 21st Judicial District prepare for the retrial of Michael Blagg for the murder of his wife in 2001. During the trial, Sarah and Teresa played a vital role helping prosecutors prepare for court.

Jana and Cindy spent hours reviewing the case file to understand the work completed by prior investigators and looking for items that could benefit from additional analysis using current technology. They then met with investigators and prosecutors to explain their findings and wrote nine supplemental laboratory reports.

All four team members provided exceptional service in working with the prosecutors to prepare for court. They met for hours with prosecutors to ensure the scientific evidence would be presented accurately and understandably. Some of these meetings took place outside regular business hours. They worked closely with Deputy District Attorney Trish Mahre to prepare her for questioning the defense expert.

Following the trial, Deputy D.A. Trish Mahre wrote an email to thank CBI, explaining that assistance and support from CBI played a significant role in the conviction.”