Sheriff Hoffman Holds Awards Ceremony

NEWS RELEASE 22-014 - MARCH 8, 2022

Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman presented several awards during a ceremony Tuesday to recognize employees who demonstrated exemplary service to their community.

Corrections Deputy Asen Dimitrov earned the Life Saving Award for rendering aid to an inmate during a suicide attempt. In October 2021, Deputy Dimitrov, who is assigned to the Booking area of the correctional facility, was working overtime to support staffing needs in one of the facility’s housing units. Just after 12:00 p.m., deputies were alerted to a female inmate attempting to end her life by suicide inside her cell. Deputy Dimitrov was first to enter the cell where the female was losing consciousness. He immediately rendered aid and loosened the restraint around the inmate’s neck, allowing her to regain consciousness. The inmate was transported to the hospital and survived thanks to Deputy Dimitrov’s quick actions.

Deputy Christopher Hudson and Communications Operator I Jenifer Christensen earned the Life Saving Award for their efforts to save a 71-year-old Sarasota County citizen experiencing a heart attack. On June 5, Operator Christensen received a 911 call from the wife of the man in cardiac arrest. Operator Christensen immediately began instructing the woman on how to perform CPR. Christensen reassured the woman and continued with instructions until first responders arrived. Deputy Hudson was first on scene and began performing CPR until paramedics took over. Fortunately, the victim made a full recovery thanks to the heroic efforts of both Operator Christensen and Deputy Hudson. During a ceremony in December, both Christensen and Hudson were honored with the Phoenix Award, presented by the Sarasota County Fire Department.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard members Lieutenant John Jensen, Sergeants Darrell Seckendorf, Dana Dawley, and Leon Traska, Detective Jonathan Vanik, Deputies Edward Hyde, Jorge Escobar, Carrie Luce, Thomas Shirley, Steven Farley, Heather Deluna, Sucre Diaz, Beth Duffy, Johnny Moreira, Anthony Langella, and Jackson Stroud received the Unit Citation award. In October 2021, the agency experienced the first line of duty death in its 100-year history. With the passing of Deputy Joshua Welge due to COVID-19, the agency offered full honors for his memorial services. Performing a ceremony with full honors is an enormous task and as the first time being conducted by the agency, this required major coordination. On October 27, all Honor Guard members were reassigned and tasked with preparing for Deputy Welge’s services. Part of line of duty honors requires members to take watch over the fallen member until he is laid to rest. All Honor Guard members volunteered to take 12-hour shifts to watch over Deputy Welge in the days leading up to the services. Collectively, the Unit worked nonstop for the 36 hours prior to the funeral and in partnership with several other local law enforcement agencies who offered their support. In addition to supporting fallen Deputy Welge, the Unit also participated in the funerals of four other current and former SCSO members including Everett Dick, Kelvin Johnson, Frank Lippert, and Tom Sears. Also in 2021, the Unit led three graduation ceremonies at the Sarasota County Criminal Justice Academy, marched in several local parades, sent representatives to two line of duty death funerals in other parts of Florida, and participated in local 9/11 and law enforcement memorial ceremonies.

The Animal Services Section received a Unit Citation for their tireless efforts throughout 2021 to support the sheriff’s office and animals of Sarasota County. On May 24, Agricultural Unit deputies responded to a report of emaciated cows in a pasture near the intersection of Fruitville and Lorraine Roads. When they arrived, they located more than 30 cattle including several calves, without access to proper food or water. All animals were transported by trailer to the Animal Services facility leading to the largest seizure of livestock in the agency’s history. Over the course of three months, six additional calves were born at the facility. Animal Service Section members were tasked with the care and rehabilitation of the cattle, including feeding, veterinary scheduling, medical treatment, monthly weigh-ins, as well as civil process coordination and criminal investigative follow-up. The owner was arrested and charged with Aggravated Animal Cruelty and Impoundment of Animals Without Sufficient Food or Water. It is thanks to the long-term combined efforts of the entire Animal Services Section that this case had a successful outcome. The Unit Citation award is presented to Lieutenant Paul Cernansky, Sergeants Mark Tuls and James Achille, Deputies Jeffery Gross, Robbie Martin, and George Yock, Supervisors Joyce Underhill, April Lessig, Carl Sellitti, and Crystal Davis, Animal Services Officers Stephanie Boor, Heather Mac Kie, Cecilia Perez, Nikki Snyder, Caitlin Brelsford, Amber Gassler, Aleksandr Gorislavets, and Megan McCormick, Animal Care Technicians Sophie Goodwin, William Maucher, Michelle McVey, Lauren Skau, Karin Zangara-Hinman, and Kalin Smith, Volunteer/Foster Coordinator Kristen Little, Animal Services Kennel Workers Lisa Bouchard and John Robson, Vicious Animal/Bite Specialist Callie Desormier, Tag Specialist Samantha Stasik, and Secretaries Kellie Dietz and Kassandra Johnson.