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2017 Employee Recognition Awards - Justice

GOLD - TIED between Omar Martinez and Ben Winkleblack

Omar Martinez, Sheriff's Office

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Omar is a Supervising Correctional Officer with the Sheriff’s Office. He is charged with the safety of inmates housed at the County jail. Omar’s attention to detail and quick thinking helped save the life of a high-profile inmate in a precarious situation. His selfless actions saved another human’s life regardless of the reason for the inmate’s incarceration. Omar truly went above and beyond the call of duty.

Ben Winkleblack, Animal Shelter

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Ben is the Shelter Manager at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. Ben is always the first person to volunteer to help his co-workers. He has been instrumental in taking ideas to provide more efficient and effective services to the next level, and has partnered with other shelters and organizations in order to better serve our communities. Ben is courteous and professional with both staff and the public, and always remains calm and polite during stressful situations. Additionally, Ben has been able to obtain over $100,000 in grants for the shelter, and has earned the unofficial title of the “Swiss Army Knife,” successfully handling many maintenance and IT projects for the shelter.

SILVER - Shared by members of the Pre-Trial Services Unit, District Attorney’s Office

Back Row, Left to Right:
Michelle Zubey
Carlo Castagnetto
Andrew Lesniak
Armando Baltazar


Front Row, Left to Right:
Leigh Armentano
Linda Perez
Nereida Rodriguez


Not Pictured:
Jorge Cortez
Laura Castillo
Taylor Brox
Marshall Jaurigi
Chandler Townsend

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The Pre-Trial Services Unit, a group within the County’s Probation Department, exemplified extraordinary teamwork to solve system inequities driven by the bail system, and safely reduce unnecessary incarceration and jail overcrowding through the use of a new evidence-based pre-trial tool called the Public Safety Assessment, or PSA. Since the implementation of this tool, the Pre-Trial Services Unit has saved over $2.6 million for the County of Santa Cruz, and has become a state-wide model for bail reform. This collaborative team effort speaks directly to the Probation Department’s main mission, which is to advance public safety, research-based practices, and stewardship, and reserve costly and limited jail space for higher risk offenders through alternatives to custody programs.

BRONZE - Shared by members of the Never Forget Relay Team:
Left to right:
Aron Tripp
Henry Montes
Heather Whisman
Stephen Drottar

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The Never Forget Relay Team was a collaborative effort within the District Attorney’s Office, consisting of staff who were inspired to honor the many First Responders who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty for the citizens of Santa Cruz County. In honor of these fallen heroes, this group organized a relay run that held its inaugural event in 2015. Having completed its 3rd year in 2017, the relay run has raised over $20,000 for the Fallen Officer Foundation in Santa Cruz County, a non-profit group that helps to support First Responders in need. In addition to helping out the Fallen Officers Foundation, the Never Forget Relay fosters a sense of community outreach and remembrance for the fallen First Responders.