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Public Safety Day Honorees-Wakulla Times June 2012

PUBLIC SAFETY DAY HONOREES RECOGNIZED AND WALK FOR THE FALLEN

I was joined by Undersheriff Maurice Langston on May 14 as we recognized five deserving individuals who made outstanding contributions to law enforcement. The event was Public Safety Appreciation Day and it was held at the Wakulla Shrine Club.

Detective Nick Boutwell was named the 2012 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Lt. Lindsay Maxwell was named Detention Deputy of the Year, Officer Lucy Gowdy was named Communications Officer of the Year, Johnny B. Ross was named Outstanding Citizen in Support of Law Enforcement and Chaplain Dallas Gray was named the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year.

Detective Nick Boutwell is assigned to the Property Crimes section of the sheriff’s office. Detective Boutwell was born in Tallahassee but has lived his entire life in Wakulla County. He attended Shadeville Elementary and Crawfordville Elementary schools, Wakulla Middle School and graduated from Wakulla High School in 2002.
Detective Boutwell graduated from North Florida Community College with a certificate in Criminal Justice in 2004. He is attending Saint Leo University part-time studying Criminal Justice.

He saw an opportunity to give back to his community and decided to make law enforcement his career. As a deputy, Nick saw an opportunity to improve the quality of life in Wakulla County.

His favorite part of the job is solving cases where there appear to be no obvious suspects, recovering and returning stolen property to the proper owner and putting a smile on a child’s face. Detective Boutwell remembered helping a young girl who had recently lost her dog. He was able to share a stuffed animal with the young child and bring a smile to her face. “I love the interaction with the community,” he said.
Boutwell was a member of the Wakulla County SWAT Team and is designated as a Special Deputy by the U.S. Marshal’s office. He worked his way up from Correctional

Officer in 2003 to deputy sheriff in 2004 and detective in 2007. He has served on the Vice and Property Crimes squad since becoming a detective.
A lifelong Wakulla County resident, he married the former Amber Cudihy of Marietta, Ga. in December 2006. The couple has two young daughters, Leah and Emma. When he isn’t working he enjoys outdoor activities including hunting and fishing, golf and bicycling. He is a former high school athlete who played football and baseball.
I have watched Nick as he has grown from the jail to road patrol deputy to detective. He is a tremendously caring and thorough deputy and investigator. Wakulla County is fortunate to have someone like Nick.

Lt. Lindsay Maxwell discovered Wakulla County when she was a student at Florida State University. The Miami native graduated in 2005 with degrees in Criminal Justice and Social Work. She began working at the WCSO in 2006 as a Correctional Officer Assistant. She became certified as a correctional officer at the Corrections Academy in Madison. Maxwell has worked all over the jail during her employment and her areas of concern now include accreditation, detention training and evaluation in the jail, food service, medical services and inmate transportation. During her time in the jail she has been promoted to sergeant and lieutenant.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” she said. “I love my job. I love the challenges and the coordination required between everybody back there (in the jail).” She serves as a liaison between the WCSO and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and has been working with the contract employees who are in charge of the medical operation, as the new employees balance the inmate medical needs with security concerns.

She recently married Transportation Detention Deputy Jansen Maxwell and maintains strong ties to her FSU Seminole roots.
Without a doubt, Lindsay is the finest corrections deputy I have met. She has done it at such a young age and has shown a tremendous amount of maturity. It is exciting to watch Lindsay grow and think about what she may become in our department.

Communications Officer Lucy Gowdy called the award an “unexpected honor.” She grew up in Wakulla County and graduated from Wakulla High School in 1989. She is one of three sisters and three brothers, although one of her brothers has passed away. After serving as the WHS senior class secretary she graduated from Tallahassee Community College with an AA in Criminal Justice. She is attending ITT Technical to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

The daughter of Duane Gowdy and Cynthia McDonald, she has worked at the WCSO for 12 years in several divisions. She began working in the E-911 Division before working in the Purchasing office. She has spent time working in corrections and has the most time serving in the Communications division.
“I love it,” she said of her communications duties. “I love working in the Communications Division helping people in the community. I take a great deal of pride in that. You never know what kind of a call you are going to get. You learn to expect the unexpected.”

She believes in making sure it is “safety first” as she keeps all public safety officers safe so they can go home to their families at the end of each shift.
“There is something special about knowing that public safety officer’s lives are in your hands,” she added. “I love working with the other dispatchers. We depend on each other.”

Lucy is a very caring individual. She has had to step up to the plate and continues to step up to the plate and help with tragedy within her family. She is a tremendous asset to the sheriff’s office. When I call the sheriff’s office and Lucy answers, I know everything will be okay.

Chaplain Dallas Gray was selected as the Volunteer of the Year. Chaplain Gray has served as a Wakulla County Detention Services Volunteer for more years than the Volunteer Service Program has been recognized by the sheriff’s office. Gray provides spiritual leadership for as many as 350 inmates in the jail as well as the rest of the law enforcement and WCSO staff.

Chaplain Gray has been assigned to provide comfort at crime scenes as well as notifying family members of the death of loved ones. His spiritual guidance has assisted family’s get their lives back together following suicides and assisted parents who have lost children.

He has spent time riding with deputies during their patrol shifts and has discussed dietary needs and restrictions with inmates of various faiths.
“I understand the importance of being available to help deputies who have been affected emotionally by what they have seen during their time in the field,” said Chaplain Gray. “The greatest impact a chaplain can make is to understand the type of emotions officers go through and build up that level of confidence that allows them to open up their lives. It is fulfilling to sit down with officers and build that level of confidence with them for them to open up their life to you. I truly feel like God has called me to do this work.”

“I enjoy doing it,” he said. “It is very fulfilling. We do see great tragedies. It will mess you up if you are not prepared by the Lord.”
When I think of Dallas Gray I think of someone like Emmett Whaley, one of the finest preachers I have known. Dallas is in that category. He is a great Christian. He doesn’t get paid a penny to do it, but he is a tremendously caring person.

Crawfordville resident Johnny B. Ross, Jr. was selected as the Citizen of the Year in Support of Law Enforcement.
Ross was at a Medart convenience store in March when he discovered that a Canadian tourist left his wallet with cash and valuables as he was getting gas. Ross turned the wallet and fanny pack in to the sheriff’s office and the property was returned to the owner.

The Canadian and friends from Quebec met with some of our staff at the sheriff’s office and thanked law enforcement and Ross for being helpful, kind and honest.
A Wakulla County native, Ross works as a handyman and has been helped professionally by members of the WCSO. Ross, who was raised in Sopchoppy, and his wife Belinda have three children.

“I was very surprised and honored when Sheriff Crum recognized me,” he said. “It started off with me just trying to do the right thing.” Ross was raised by the late Charlotte Rosier and the late Johnny B. Ross, Sr. “I give them credit for how things have worked out.”
Friends saw the newspaper coverage of Ross being recognized by the sheriff’s office for his kind act and many have taken the time to congratulate Ross and shake his hand.

“I didn’t do it for the publicity,” he said. “I just wanted to do the right thing. I’ve been blessed.”
I have seen a great change in Ross over the years. It has truly been remarkable. He is an outstanding individual. I have seen the growth in him and seen him go from negative to positive. He has overcome challenges and is proof that you can get knocked down and you can get back up.

The Public Safety Day program was sponsored by A.J. Smith and catered by Posey’s. The event was sponsored annually by the Coastal Optimist Club.

• Undersheriff Maurice Langston and I had a wonderful opportunity to meet with a Lee County Sheriff’s Office team along U.S. Highway 98 as the team was getting ready to complete the final legs of a “Walk for the Fallen.”

The law enforcement team walked from Fort Myers to Tallahassee to raise awareness and funds for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. This is an outstanding cause and we wanted to show the tired group that we supported their activities as they passed through our area.
Sgt. David Drum decided to raise money to help fellow officers by walking, running and cycling. The pledges he received will go directly to Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), an organization that helps the children and families of fallen officers through grief counseling, scholarship opportunities and more.
If this sounds like a challenging task, it was. The Lee County crew traversed 390 miles of Florida and visited: Lee, Charlotte, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Levy, Gilchrist, Dixie, Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Leon counties along the way.

You can support C.O.P.S. and the families of the brave men and women who gave their lives by mailing a donation to:  Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc., P.O. Box 3199, Camdenton, MO 65020.  Please write "Walk for the Fallen" on the memo line.  For more information about their journey, you can go to www.Facebook.com/walkforthefallen. I presented Sgt. Drum with a Wakulla Sheriff’s Star as a small token of our appreciation.

You can also visit the Officer Down Memorial page on the Internet athttp://www.odmp.org/ and learn more about the men and women who have given their lives in the law enforcement field.

• I have also recently recognized Jean and Finley McMillan and Virginia Barnes for their longtime financial support of the Florida Sheriff’s Association Youth Ranches. It is a most worthy cause and the young people helped at the ranches also appreciate the support.

• Drug Take Back Day on April 28 was a great success as the sheriff’s office was able to collect and destroy 75 pounds worth of unwanted pills and other pharmaceutical items and keep them from harming the environment and out of the hands of people who might abuse them.

• On April 8 to April 14, we honored our WCSO Communications staff during Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The week gave us a chance to thank the communications crew for the outstanding job they do to keep the county safe.

Have a happy and safe summer!

 

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