Two Lehigh Acres sheriff's deputies have been honored by the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce for what their commander Capt. Ronald Curtis, called fine work and follow-up investigations and ultimately the formal charging of two individuals.
Deputies Chris Tice and Brian Walkowiak were presented awards by Chamber Executive Director Gary Bright at the chamber's monthly awards luncheon held at the Microtel Inn & Suites large meeting room ion June 26.
On May 1, the Sheriff's Office was called with a report of a burglary in progress on Portage Avenue in Lehigh. When Deputies Walkowiak and Tice responded, they encountered two suspects who were behind the house dismantling the air conditioning unit.
The suspects immediately ran and the deputies gave chase and apprehended the pair. Both suspects were taken to the Lehigh Acres Bravo substation for further investigation and questioning,
During the ride, the suspects made self-incriminating, spontaneous utterances, which confirmed their attempts to steal the air conditioner, Curtis said.
In addition, once at the substation Deputy Tice interrogated one of the suspects and, because of the rapport he had built with the suspect, he was able to obtain a full confession after the suspect refused to speak with detectives, according to Curtis.
He told chamber members that law enforcement is a profession that is rich in paperwork, and it is proper documentation of an incident that leads to successful prosecutions and this case was no exception, he said. Both deputies did an outstanding job articulating the events that unfolded, Curtis said.
He also said the documents prepared by both Deputies Tice and Walkowiak helped detectives tremendously in their follow-up investigation and ultimately led to the formal charging of two peoples.
"Deputies Walkowiak and Tice are fine examples of the dedicated and determined law enforcement officers who serve the people of Lehigh Acres every day. In this case, their thorough and complete investigation from initial response to a call for help, to incarceration, was exceptional as well as above and beyond the call of duty," Curtis said.
The Chamber of Commerce also recognized Judy Joyce, the manager at Microtel Inn & Suites as its Member of the Month award. Joyce has been a great supporter of the Chamber since Microtel opened its doors, Chamber Director Bright said.
As a graduate of the Leadership Lehigh program, she is closely connected to the Chamber and its events. Bright said that Joyce and her team are always very flexible and supportive when the Chamber is holding events in the Microtel Banquet Room.
"Her support stretches to sponsorships, special accommodation rates and advertising in the Chamber's marketing material. We appreciate all she does as a vital part of the Chamber," Bright said.
The Chamber also recognized Doris T. Moore of Lehigh Community Services as its Employee of the Month.
While presenting the award, Bright said that she was an asset to the Chamber.
"Not only is she a model employee, she's fun to be around. There's never a dull moment with Doris. Her work ethic is truly the best and her integrity is above reproach. Besides that, she makes her boss look good and has her back. Doris is willing to take on any task and believe it or not, she even volunteers for them," Bright said.
"She thinks dealing with more than 300 clients at a mobile food pantry is fun. She even participates in crazy fundraisers without any hesitation. She can be depended on to answer the phone, make appointments; she even volunteered to coordinate the income tax program, called VITA, in addition to her regular duties and that is quite a task. She is one in a million and the Chamber is fortunate to have Doris on its team," Bright said.
Pete Winton of Lee County Management gave the Chamber an update on county government.
As guest speaker, he said the county is "seeing the light at the end of the tunnel" as far as the economy. He said that in 2008 just prior to the recession, the county had $462 million in reserves and today, he said, there is $210 million less.
"As for the bad economy, I think we have bottomed out," he said.
The next Chamber luncheon at the Microtel Inn & Suites on Broadway will be held for members and non-members on July 31. Call the Chamber to make reservations.