Wednesday, November 30, 2022

DPS Honors 43 Employees with Badge of Excellence

Nov 30, 2022

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety recognized 43 outstanding employees Nov. 29 during the department’s annual Badge of Excellence Ceremony. 

The Badge of Excellence award is the department’s highest honor and since 2015 has been bestowed on DPS employees who have made outstanding contributions to the department, state government and the people of North Carolina. In both their professional and personal lives, these recipients embody the department’s mission of reducing crime, enhancing public safety and serving the communities where they live. 

Recipients were nominated by their peers and selected by the DPS Badge of Excellence Committee, earning awards in the field of customer service; human relations; safety and heroism; innovation and efficiency; outstanding achievement; and public service and volunteerism.  

DPS is proud to recognize the following individuals as recipients of the 2022 Badge of Excellence. 

Customer Service 

Armen Armenakyan – Keeping a close watch on the ever-changing world of building codes, regulations and policies, Armenakyan continuously strives to ensure his coworkers in the Central Engineering section have access to the most up-to-date resources and information available.  

DPS Communications Office – Margaret Ekam, Matthew Jenkins, Dabney Weems, Kirsten Barber, Jeff Goldsmith, Debbie Riddle and Kelly Higgins developed a wide-reaching awareness campaign highlighting the DPS Victim Services Office and the help its staff provide to crime victims and their families.  

Thomas Bennett – As a grants manager with the North Carolina Emergency Management Recovery section, Bennett manages applications from 178 governments and nonprofits, and always strives to maintain excellent working relationships with each. 

Latisha Coston – A probation and parole officer in Perquimans County, Coston is a true asset in the workplace and in her community. She is always willing to go the extra mile to help offenders find the resources they need to be successful. 

Mike Deluca – Managing the security of the department’s HR payroll and learning management systems, Deluca shows exemplary diligence in assisting DPS employees who need help with these platforms, troubleshooting their problems in a timely manner. 

Wendy Hardy and Wayne Stewart – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hardy and Stewart served as leaders of the COVID-19 Quality Assurance Team for the state’s prison system. In this role, they regularly entered COVID-19 hotspots to ensure best practices were in place to prevent further transmission. 

Steven Hurley – As a Drug Recognition Expert with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Sgt. Hurley has been an invaluable resource in the prosecution of countless DWI cases in his district. Beyond his regular duties, he also lends his talents to other local agencies when needed. 

Robert Lee – Administrative Correctional Sgt. Robert Lee gives 100% to his facility and his coworkers. When Sanford Correctional was tapped as the first NC prison for ACA accreditation in 2020, Lee became the subject matter expert on surveillance equipment, tool storage and collaboration with ACA liaisons. 

Lisa Varguhese – In her role as a juvenile court counselor, Varguhese is an invaluable resource for justice-involved youth and their families. In her cases, she treats all parties involved with dignity and respect, working diligently to create a plan that balances the needs of juveniles with her responsibility to the public.  

Human Relations  

Carolyn Banks – Banks, a behavioral specialist at Granville Correctional Institution, consistently goes out of her way to encourage her coworkers and make them feel appreciated. She has also spearheaded a number of service projects, building strong ties between her facility and the community.  

Alice Flake – As a correctional behavioral specialist at Eastern Correctional Institution, Flake excels in working with both offenders and her fellow staff members. Offenders appreciate her fair approach and her focus on their overall improvement as they go through the processes of incarceration.  

Innovation and Efficiency  

Scott Bassett – After noticing a massive increase in the number of cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, SBI Criminal Specialist Scott Bassett developed a plan to ensure these tips were investigated in a timely manner. The result was a multi-agency operation that resulted in dozens of arrests of suspects possessing child sexual abuse materials. 

Lloyd Ray Clark – Architect Supervisor Clark has revolutionized the way that DPS Central Engineering provides construction drawing service. By implementing cutting-edge computer aided design and GIS technologies, he has streamlined his section’s operations to a level that rivals companies in the private sector.  

Matt Debnam – Using a variety of Microsoft tools, Communications Specialist Matt Debnam has changed the way the department handles public records requests, from setting up a new intake form and automated notifications to redesigning the request tracking system and generating dashboard visualizations of the data. 

Chess McQueen - In July of 2021, Alcohol Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Chess McQueen saw the need for changes in ALE’s Hickory District, and subsequently spearheaded a restructuring of his district. The end results were significant improvements in staffing, efficiency and morale. 

Outstanding Achievement and Performance  

Paul Braese – DPS Energy Manager Braese was at the forefront of developing a plan to convert every light in the state’s prison system to LEDs, an initiative that will eventually cover every department-owned building. Along with other resource conservation initiatives, it's estimated that Braese’s efforts have saved the department nearly $6 million in energy costs.  

Jason Nicholson – When COVID-19 found its way into Columbus Correctional Institution, Capt. Nicholson and his team worked diligently to reduce potential transmission. Facing this new challenge, he helped the facility quickly pivot on every aspect of operations, protecting staff and offenders alike. 

Robert Robb – As a maintenance mechanic at Black Mountain Substance Abuse Treatment Center for Women, Robb was instrumental in opening the facility in 2010. When the facility moved to a new location in 2020, he oversaw every aspect of the move, from furniture installation and painting to expanding the facility’s capacity to house 96 people.  

Tyler Stephens – Correctional Officer Stephens has proved himself to be an extraordinary asset for Catawba Correctional Center. His oversight of the armory and key control system helped Catawba become the first facility in the western region to earn the Gold Standard of Correctional Accreditation from the American Correctional Association. 

Public Service and Volunteerism  

Leslie Clothier – In honor of her daughter and other children with disabilities, Probation and Parole Officer Clothier founded the Ellie Jean Project in 2017. This nonprofit aims to outfit every playground in Moore County with accessible equipment so that every child can play alongside their peers, regardless of physical ability.  

William Johnson – Capt. Johnson is a strong asset at Alexander Correctional Center, and in his community at large. From volunteering with Meals on Wheels, to taking the polar plunge to raise money for Special Olympics, his dedication to his community shines through in many ways. 

Chad Lackey – Lackey works as a juvenile intake court counselor in Caldwell County, but his service extends well beyond his job. From participating in National Night Out and hand-delivering meals on Christmas day to starting up new programs for youth in his community, Lackey shows that he cares. 

David McCarthy – Chief PPO McCarthy serves on the SHIELD team that provides peer support for DPS employees in crisis, the Community Corrections Pandemic Response Team and the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee in his county. He and his wife have also become foster parents, providing a safe and stable home for children in need.  

Wendy Sellars – In addition to serving on countless local boards and commissions, PPO Sellars also founded “Hugs Heal Thomasville,” an organization dedicated to helping the homeless and less-fortunate populations in her community. She also volunteers with Davidson County, working with individuals re-entering the community from jail, prison and other circumstances. 

Kimberly Wright – Chief PPO Wright represents Franklin County on the Re-Entry Council, working diligently to reduce recidivism. She also helped implement the “Friday-Jean Day” fundraising initiative for Community Corrections, raising thousands of dollars for non-profits and charitable causes. 

Safety and Heroism  

Tyler Dellinger and Tom Glenn – PPOs Dellinger and Glenn were the first to arrive on scene when a two-year-old child was shot in the leg in Mitchell County last January. A follow-up with investigating authorities and emergency personnel confirmed that quick response by these officers not only saved the young child's life, but also provided critical, early first aid.   

Matthew Eure, Carmell Locklear, Jamie Wayne – Troopers Eure, Locklear and Wayne saved a man’s life following a Pamlico County traffic collision involving an SUV and a school bus. The children on the bus were not injured, but the driver of the SUV sat pinned in his vehicle with a partially severed arm. Through their quick action, the three were able to save the man’s life, while simultaneously caring for the children on the bus. 

Antwain Green – Correctional Officer Green selflessly put himself at risk to protect a neighbor from a dog attack, distracting the animal and preventing further harm to the victim. As a result, he suffered bite wounds to his arms and legs that kept him out of work for almost two months. Thanks to his quick intervention, his neighbor was spared further injury. 

Kevin Glenn and Brian Wyatt – Troopers Glenn and Wyatt were assisting the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office with an active chase when a suspect shot Trooper Glenn in the face. Wyatt radioed for help and stayed by his shift partner’s side until emergency personnel arrived on the scene and began to administer aid.  

Len Hagaman III – SBI Special Agent Hagaman was on scene in April 2021 responding to an officer-involved shooting in Watauga County. An armed suspect had barricaded himself inside a residence and an officer was wounded and trapped inside. As the medic on the rescue team, Hagaman entered the residence under fire, risking his life to provide medical aid and eventual rescue to the officer inside. 

Christopher McIntosh – Trooper McIntosh was the first to arrive at the scene of a shooting in Harnett County in August 2021, where he discovered a victim who had been shot in the right thigh and arm. A trained EMT, McIntosh noticed active hemorrhaging and immediately applied tourniquets to the wounds, saving the victims life in the process. 

Ashley M. Vogelsong – PPO Vogelsong heard shots in her neighborhood and ran to the scene. Craven County deputies had come under fire while trying to serve involuntary commitment papers and one had been wounded. Vogelsong helped load the wounded deputy into the car and then stayed to monitor the safety of four other officers until backup could arrive. 

2022 Badge of Excellence Award Winners


Watch the full ceremony

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