PORT RICHEY — Danger and uncertainty loomed inside the house as Deputies Brandy Thiemann and Peter Knorr approached. An armed man waited somewhere inside.
Moments before the deputies' arrival Dec. 13, a woman and the rest of her family had fled the house after her husband argued with her, then fired a round from his handgun. No one knew at the time if he shot himself or if he was still alive and angry. He had been taken into protective custody for a mental health evaluation after previous suicide attempts. The deputies went inside to see if he needed medical attention.
Knorr took cover in case the man attacked.
Thiemann talked to the man through a garage door to calm him. She persuaded him to hand over his handgun, magazine, ammunition and three knives before he came out.
The man was again taken into protective custody. No one was hurt.
For this, Thiemann and Knorr were recognized at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office's quarterly awards ceremony last month. Both received the Lifesaving Award.
Other awards presented included:
Lifesaving Award: Sgt. Jonathon McGuffin, deputies Joanna Rengering and Roy Castro, and nurses Daniel Rhodes, Cindy Bell, Joe Filippelli, Giovani Gomez and Renee Bingham were lauded after their attempts on Sept. 28 to resuscitate an inmate who collapsed in a shower at the jail. Rhodes, Bell, Gomez and Castro pulled the man from the shower. Filippelli, Bingham and McGuffin performed CPR on the inmate, but he was unable to be revived.
Spirit of Intelligence Led Policing Award: Sgt. Arthur Rowand was honored for his applying intelligence led policing to traffic. He directed deputies on the traffic enforcement team to concentrate patrol on high crime areas to boost presence in hopes of reducing crimes. Rowand used traffic crash data to find that areas of high crime are prone to more traffic accidents.
• Nicole Fraking, a communications supervisor, was recognized for her help in pinpointing an Orange County man who had sent her emails indicating he might be a danger to himself. Authorities tracked down the man who, it turned out, was wanted on multiple outstanding warrants. Fraking also created an application to help communication shift supervisors keep track of damaged areas in Tropical Storm Debby.
• Detention deputy Dawn Cook was lauded for her enthusiasm and benevolence in interacting with inmates. Her understanding while acclimating new inmates to the jail and her ability to quell tense situations were also noted.
• Detectives Daniel McClure and Kristina Gonzalez were recognized for their parts in bringing down a tri-county crime ring. The two identified the roles of 22 of the ring's members who, deputies say, were committing a string of thefts in Pasco, Pinellas and Hernando counties. Seven of the members had been arrested in 39 cases by the time the detectives' award was submitted.
Citizen Service Award: Denise Szulis, a volunteer at the Pasco chapter of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, was honored for raising awareness about the dangers of synthetic drugs like Spice and K2 that have plagued Pasco County in recent years. Szulis has led educational workshops to discuss synthetic marijuana and created a group called Save Pasco, which pickets local convenience stores that sell the drugs. Last year, Szulis went before the County Commission, which unanimously approved an ordinance to ban sale of synthetic drugs.
Patriot Award: Capt. Michael Schreck was recognized for helping a member of his unit transfer from working at the Sheriff's Office to deployment in the U.S. Navy Reserve and back again. Lt. Rick Bain has served in Afghanistan and Iraq during his career with the Sheriff's Office, and he nominated Schreck for his support in easing the transition.
• Mary Hoefler has retired after 12 years as a nurse in the Land O'Lakes jail. She began her work responding to emergencies in the jail, dispensing medication and conducting physicals in 2000. Hoefeler said her biggest challenge in her career, during which the inmate population more than doubled, is the increase in narcotics-addicted inmates. After retiring Dec. 11, she said she may volunteer with the jail's ministry.
• Janet Swank started working at the Sheriff's Office 23 years ago in the communications unit. She transferred to the property evidence unit in 2003 and remained there until her retirement in 2012. She called her career with the Sheriff's Office rewarding and memorable. In her retirement, she plans to travel and volunteer.
Alex Orlando can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.