Department of Public Safety Recognizes Outstanding Employees with Badge of Excellence Award


The Department of Public Safety recognized its committed and exceptional employees on Sept. 29 during the department’s annual Badge of Excellence Ceremony held at the Joint Force Headquarters.

The ceremony acknowledged DPS employees who made outstanding contributions to the department’s mission to improve the quality of life by reducing crime and enhancing public safety. The Badge of Excellence program was established in 2015 to promote a department-wide recognition of employees and celebrate their contributions to the department, state government and North Carolinians.

“These employees embody our state motto, to be rather than to seem,” said Secretary Erik A. Hooks. ”Their actions speak louder than words, and they made a difference in the lives of fellow North Carolinians as they help to prevent, protect and prepare.”

The 32 employees were recognized for their accomplishments in the categories of customer service, safety and heroism, outstanding achievement and performance, public service and volunteerism, and innovation and efficiency. Employees were nominated for the award by other DPS employees including their supervisors, co-workers and subordinates. 
Listed below are the award recipients in each of the following five categories:


Awarded to employees who consistently demonstrate the ability and willingness to work positively, respectfully and effectively with others; employees who significantly improve or exhibit good customer service or has increased customer service in their section.

Tiffany Jackson
Tiffany Jackson is a training officer with Emergency Management. In addition to her duties as a training officer, she is responsible for the coordination of meals during emergency activations. Jackson works with vendors to provide meals, and balances allergy and dietary restrictions for men and women activated for various emergencies. She has done this for more than 200 days this year due to COVID-19, with a smile, upbeat demeanor and a positive attitude. 

Joni Penny
Joni Penny is a population management manager for Prisons. She is responsible for all the movement that includes jail-to-prison, and prison-to-outside appointments whether it is for court or medical reasons. Her service is unwavering as colleagues take note that she is available any time to provide viable solutions. Penny is known as the resident expert and can problem-solve offender movement issues that arise and was invaluable this year assisting with COVID-19-related issues. 

Julie Schwarz
Julie Schwarz is a clinical social worker who provides individual and group therapy to offenders at Eastern Correctional Institution in Maury. She is described by colleagues as, “professional, dependable and always seeking to improve the overall operation.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, Schwarz created two activity books for offenders, with one focusing on coping skills. She also assists with aftercare planning, scheduling disability interviews, Medicaid applications, and various other tasks to help the overall team. 

Kathleen Winkler
Kathleen Winkler is a correctional case manager at Eastern Correctional Institution. Fellow staff have overheard offenders on her caseload bragging to others, “she is the best-case manager in the state.” Aside from her duties as a case manager, Winkler serves as the library coordinator, community volunteer programs coordinator, substance abuse coordinator, facility coordinator, and the getting right instructor. She also sewed masks for her co-workers during COVID-19.


Awarded to employees who demonstrate a commitment to promoting a safe working environment, outstanding judgment, courage, and meritorious action to prevent injury, loss of life, or prevent damage to, or loss of, property.

Jackie Benton and Christian Gall
State Highway Patrol troopers Jackie Benton and Christian Gall worked an accident on Interstate 40 involving an overturned vehicle. Both the driver and passenger received serious injuries that required the troopers to apply tourniquets to help stop the bleeding. They continued to provide aid until paramedics arrived. The quick thinking and first aid skills of the troopers helped save the lives of the passengers.

Henry Locklear
Trooper Henry Locklear was in pursuit of a speeding motorist who would not respond to his emergency equipment. The vehicle eventually collided with two other vehicles. Trooper Locklear provided medical assistance and a tourniquet to the driver who had been ejected from the vehicle and lost part of his arm. His fast response and initial treatment ultimately saved the driver’s life.

Dean Stump
Correctional Sgt. Dean Stump approached a traffic accident while on vacation with his family. He responded with other motorists to help save two people injured in a smoking car in a ravine. They worked to safely remove the driver and passenger and perform CPR until paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, both passengers succumbed to their injuries.


Awarded to employees who significantly improve a work process or system, or significantly increase the efficiency of an operation or unit. Recipients consistently seek to improve the quality of work assigned and demonstrate efforts to expand work responsibilities.

Terri Catlett, Rusty Cuthrell and Ed Lawson
Terri Catlett, Rusty Cuthrell and Ed Lawson collaborated to bring telehealth services to Prisons and provided cost and timesaving measures by reducing the time and resources needed to transport offenders to in-person appointments. Catlett and her team conducted extensive research to determine the equipment necessary to implement telehealth statewide. She also created instructional handouts and provided in-service staff training. Cuthrell handled the logistics of purchasing the equipment. He also coordinated with more than 50 facilities to install the equipment. Lawson provided the Information Technology support and installation of the equipment.

Adam Dillingham
Adam Dillingham is the food service manager at Albemarle Correctional Institution in Badin and is responsible for the daily operations of the food service department. During 2016 and 2018, his department scored the highest food service audit scores in the region with 98.4% and 99.2% respectively. Dillingham collaborates with regional dietitians and the Food and Nutrition Management office on testing, writing and developing new recipes. To date, almost 40 of the recipes he has written or updated have been implemented in the statewide Prisons master menu.

Sophia Feaster-Lawrence
Sophia Feaster-Lawrence is the American with Disabilities Act coordinator for Prisons and is responsible for approving reasonable accommodations for offenders and providing ADA training to all field staff. She worked with IT to install the “Inmate Reasonable Accommodation Request form” online, reducing the processing time and improving the tracking of offenders’ accommodations. She also consistently communicates with staff about updated guidelines to enhance compliance with federal ADA guidelines.

B. Fleming
B. Fleming is the drug wire coordinator with the State Bureau of Investigation. He has been involved with complex drug investigations since 2013 and began to teach other agents how to utilize existing and new technologies to further those investigations. His work in drug investigations has led to seizures of 1,224 kilograms of cocaine, 3,799 pounds of methamphetamine, 11,600 pounds of marijuana, $17.21 million and 175 firearms. Fleming’s innovative use of technology has led to violent crimes being solved.

Eric Frey
Assistant Special Agent in Charge Eric Frey works with the Training Section of the State Bureau of Investigation and volunteered to be reassigned to lead the 50th Special Agent Academy at Samarcand. ASAC Frey scheduled facilities, secured instructors and updated training materials for the academy. When operations were paused due to COVID-19, he secured virtual plans for training to continue that led to a successful academy and graduation on April 17.

Robert Gron
Robert Gron is deputy director of Central Engineering and has played a significant role in updating the section’s contract-to-award process and leading the creative process for the development of a routing directory list and a digital library. He created one form to use for all contract awards, and it eliminated the need for project managers to scour through manuals to determine necessary documents. Gron created a routing directory that lists step-by-step directions for all design and construction contracts, change orders, amendments or anything related to the contract. He also created a digital library using existing free resources that houses all of Central Engineering’s policies, procedures and forms on an internal drive with a web interface.

Amanda Wrublewski
Correctional Programs Supervisor Amanda Wrublewski at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women in Black Mountain is responsible for managing the correctional case managers and oversees the unit’s community volunteer program. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wrublewski developed a program for offenders to make masks for the Manna Food Bank in Asheville and Bounty and Soul in Black Mountain. In only the first two weeks, the offenders created 200 masks.

Gary Young
Alcohol Law Enforcement’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Young is in charge of the communications and logistics department. ASAC Young coordinated and oversaw the relocation of nearly 5,000 pieces of government equipment valued at more than $250,000 and streamlined ALE’s state surplus procedures netting more than $150,000 in new appropriated funds. He was able to prioritize reusable police gear to install on ALE vehicles, saving $70,000, and he networked with other agencies to secure and refurbish 25 of their laptops and save $17,500.


Awarded for consistently exceeding expectation and making significant contributions in areas that positively advances the mission of the agency.  

Priscilla Diane Dorey
Priscilla Diane Dorey is the nurse supervisor at Caswell Correctional Center in Blanch and was charged to provide patient care to several offenders in quarantine who had tested positive for COVID-19. With the health and safety of offenders and staff a priority, Dorey persevered and worked tirelessly to have offenders transferred and obtained additional nursing staff to assist at Caswell CC.

Casey Drake
State Bureau of Investigation’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge Casey Drake worked to uncover a culture of corruption within Buncombe County. Her investigation into illegal expenditures on county-issued purchase cards led to the indictments of a retired employee and her son, who was also a county employee. Further investigations by Drake led to unraveling misappropriations or embezzlement in excess of $8 million by officials within the county and the conviction of six people to date. 

Ryan Flynn
Ryan Flynn is chief of staff for the Office of Recovery and Resiliency. He is instrumental in all aspects of the office’s operations from hiring staff to negotiating policy details to troubleshooting applicants’ concerns. He is not only responsible for vendor contracts, but Flynn also writes requests for proposals, is part of every evaluation committee, negotiates with vendors and most importantly holds the vendor accountable to ensure a quality product is delivered. He also designed a month-long training program to ensure staff is well-trained and prepared when they are called on to serve the public as they rebuild from storm damage.

Justin Heinrich
Special Agent Justin Heinrich of the State Bureau of Investigation is assigned to the bureau’s Criminal Apprehension Team and is a task force agent for the FBI. For years he has worked cases involving kidnappings and missing endangered persons, where his expertise and investigation skills led to the safe recovery of the victims. In April 2019, he collaborated with the Warren County Sherriff’s Office to help locate a missing 15-year-old girl who was being held captive by a 51-year-old male. 

Joy Jones
Joy Jones is the director of nursing at Central Prison Healthcare Complex in Raleigh. Jones’ leadership during COVID-19 was paramount in the development of preventive planning at the facility that included medical supply stockpiling, plans for isolation units and staffing models. While fighting COVID-19, she and her team monitored all medical cases at the facility 24 hours a day. Her extensive planning and direction not only led to a safer environment for staff and offenders, she became a resource for division, field communication and planning sessions related to COVID-19.

Kevin Kimbrough
Kevin Kimbrough is an assistant special agent in charge with the State Bureau of Investigation Computer Crimes Unit. Following up on a tip, his investigation led to the rescue of a 5-year-old boy who was in a cycle of sexual abuse and on the verge of being trafficked by his mother. Crimes of secret peeping were also discovered against the victim’s grandmother. 

Timothy Moody
Maintenance Mechanic Plumber Timothy Moody retrieved a weapon that would be used as evidence in the death of an offender. He went well beyond the call of duty, staying extra hours to create an electrician’s snake from zip ties, magnets and epoxy to retrieve the weapon through 25 feet of pipe. 


Awards employees who have made outstanding contributions by participating in, or implementing, community and public service projects.

Camp Butner Training Center
Camp Butner provides small arms ranges and training facilities for the National Guard. Last year, the camp was selected over eight other states and territories to host the Regional Best Warrior Competition. Two national matches and the North State Shooting Club sponsored civilian matches there. The Eastern Games Match, Sinclair International East Coast Full Bore Championship and the Creedmoor Cup, which is the largest event in the eastern United States, were also hosted at Camp Butner and with no safety incidents. They were able to keep up this extraordinary schedule with a limited staff due to deployments.

Derrick Copeland
Derrick Copeland is a correctional sergeant at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville. He volunteers and spends hours on and off the basketball court coaching and mentoring young men. Copeland works 12-hour shifts and still works to support youth programs in his community.

Justin Lovett
Justin Lovett is a chief probation and parole officer with Community Corrections. He works with the Autism Society of North Carolina and the Striving for Success Mentoring Program. Lovett is active with his fraternity (Kappa Alpha Psi), serving as Keeper of the Recorders and Exchequer officer positions and is constantly attending meetings, events and supporting their philanthropy in the community. He also works with college students who are interested in a career with community corrections.

Cindy Moore-Bridges
Cindy Moore-Bridges is a housing manager at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City and is in charge of the daily housing unit operations with nearly 200 offenders and 30 officers. She started two comfort closets in Pasquotank County and collects and purchases hygiene items and school supplies for children there. Moore-Bridges also creates back-to-school baskets with supplies for teachers in the county.

Larry Patterson
Correctional officer Larry Patterson at Gaston Correctional Center in Dallas, N.C. fought a variety of medical issues during the last year. After fighting cancer and being declared dead for 25 minutes, he began rehabilitation. Determined to return to work, he also had to overcome a broken ankle. Officer Patterson returned to his post on March 27 as an example of perseverance and determination.

Maj. Ashley Perdue
Maj. Ashley Perdue of the N.C. Army National Guard is the 449th Brigade Plans Officer and plans and coordinates operations for the Guard. He volunteered to serve as the senior officer in charge of soldiers assigned to support food bank operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nearly two-month mission provided more than 45,000 meals per week to those in need. Maj. Perdue and his team also supported the community, offering hope and inspiration above and beyond food security.

Joy Simmons
Joy Simmons is an administrative specialist at Forsyth Correctional Center in Winston-Salem and oversees the facility’s hiring processes and salary administration. She has organized numerous fundraising and awareness events to support organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Simmons also organized a blood drive during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.






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