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2010 Employee Recognition Awards - Justice

GOLD - TIED between Assistant District Attorney Nicole Ellen Jones and Sgt. Robin Mitchell of the Sheriff's Office

Nicole Ellen Jones

Nicole approached the Animal Services Authority several years ago and requested a meeting to discuss how Animal Services staff dealt with criminal animal cruelty and neglect complaints. Recognizing that Animal Services staff had not received sufficient training to ensure successful prosecution of these cases, and that a more direct link for communication with the District Attorney's office was needed, Nicole provided a new level of training for Animal Services officers and served as the key link to the District Attorney's office. She also assisted staff at the scene of criminal cases on her own time, helping ensure the proper collection of evidence so that criminal cases of animal abuse and neglect can be brought to trial. Nicole has devoted countless hours to help ensure that Animal Services staff are able to collect and present air tight evidence so that people who commit egregious acts of animal cruelty can be held criminally responsible. She works extremely hard behind the scenes and is deserving of recognition for her thorough prosecution of these difficult cases.


Robin Mitchell

As a Sergeant in the Sheriff's Office Community Policing Division and the supervisor in charge of the Aptos Sheriff's Service Center, Sgt. Mitchell has worked diligently to address the problems of graffiti in Aptos and in other parts of the county. In order to combat this growing problem that often affects properties in multiple jurisdictions, Sgt. Mitchell formed the Sheriff's Office Graffiti Task Force. This effort involved initiating communication between law enforcement agencies throughout the county and compiling all agency cases and photographs in one central location. Once information was received that could lead to the identification of a suspect, Sgt. Mitchell devoted countless hours investigating these cases. As a result of her excellent skills in this area, Sgt. Mitchell has been able to identify numerous suspects. She served a number of search warrants, which ultimately strengthened these cases, and even brought additional vandalism cases to light that had never been reported to law enforcement. As a result of her extraordinary case management, suspects were frequently linked to a multitude of vandalism cases in different jurisdictions. Her diligence has ensured that suspects are held accountable for damage caused to local properties.

SILVER - Shared by members of the team of Sheriff's Office Correctional Cooks :
Left to Right:
Kyle Taylor
Robin Botwinick
Maria Italia
Ron Carmody

Not pictured:
Cristobal Chavez
William Di Napoli
Guillermo Hernandez
James Hoessel
Gerardo Mendez

Members of this team are responsible for preparing meals in the kitchens at correctional facilities operated by the Sheriff's Office. Team members worked together to institute a number of programs over the past several years which have made a significant impact on the waste output from correctional facilities in Santa Cruz County. These programs include the development of a recycling program to ensure that metals, plastics, and cardboard are recycled and not placed in the landfill, as well as a composting program that diverts food wastes, landscape waste, and bio-compostable products into the composting system. As a result of these efforts, materials going into the landfill have been reduced by two-thirds. The staff at the Correctional Kitchens also received the City of Santa Cruz 2009 Clean Ocean Award in recognition of their efforts to ensure that wastewater is diverted into the appropriate drains to avoid runoff into the ocean. While the daily attention to these programs adds to their workload, each member of the team recognizes the benefits of these programs on our community and works hard to make them successful. We sincerely appreciate their efforts to protect and preserve our environment.


BRONZE - Shared by members of the Sheriff's Office Civil Division:

Left to right:
Carol Spencer
Linda Ragan
Rafaela Hoessel

During 2010, Linda, Rafaela, and Carol worked as members of the Sheriff's Civil Division, though Rafaela recently accepted a position with the County Clerk's Office.

Working in the Civil Division involves a number of different tasks, including the service of legal documents on individuals and businesses both in the unincorporated area and within the four incorporated cities, serving eviction notices, collecting levies, garnishing wages, and processing restraining orders related to domestic violence, harassment, and elder abuse. With the downturn in the economy, the Civil Division saw a dramatic rise in the need for service during a time when County departments were also experiencing staff reductions and furloughs. Linda, Rafaela, and Carol took on this additional workload with great team spirit. They consistently devoted the time needed to help people who were often facing extraordinary personal challenges, treating each member of the public with respect, kindness, and sympathy. Linda, Rafaela, and Carol each deserve recognition for the consistently outstanding manner in which they supported the work of the Civil Division.