Previously Recognized Officers
Corporal David Harney
Corporal David Harney has worked for the Highland Village Police Department since 2004. During his tenure, he has been instrumental in the success of numerous community service programs including his assistances with the Lewisville Independent School District (LISD) “Job Olympics”, local “safety talks”, and the amazing work he has done with our Fallen Officers Race and our safety and security initiative at The Shops of Highland Village. This month marks yet another round of our LETS (Law Enforcement Teaching Students) training. LETS enhances student’s basic knowledge of the dangers of alcohol and drug use, bullying, building a positive self image, grow sound decision making skill, and recognizing and coping with peer pressure. Although this program initially was conceived in Dallas as a printed product, it was abandoned and turned over to Corporal Harney who completely revamped it to a paperless educational program and it is now accessible through any electronic device. His teaching methods include role playing, puzzles, competitive games, and classroom discussion. Not only does this program build character in our youths, it also promotes police in a positive role, strengthens relationships with our youth, and readies our future adults to make positive impacts in their futures. David has taught more than 3500 students over the last 10 years and shared the program with numerous agencies. Anywhere David goes in the community, he is instantly recognized and is a huge role model for both kids and fellow Law Enforcement Officers!
Officer Dale Horton
Officer Dale Horton Arlington Police Department Officer Dale Horton made a judgment call to help a struggling single mom of 5 children instead of writing a citation for a broken tail light. Officer Horton found the required tail light at a local parts house for $100 and called on a friend who is a mechanic to make the repairs. A ticket would have only perpetuated the woman’s financial situation. Officer Horton’s proactive initiative to actually fill a need for an Arlington citizen instead of only focusing on the enforcement aspect of his job impacts not only the individual but the community in which he serves. http://www.fox4news.com/news/274032712-story
Officer A. J. Castaneda
Officer A. J. Castaneda Grand Prairie Police Department The Grand Prairie Police Department nominates Officer A. J. Castaneda for the NTCPA Officer of the Month. Officer Castaneda was driving force behind the Dinner P.A.R.T.Y (Proving At-Risk Teens and Youth Dinner) Program. Through research, he discovered up to 90% of youth members at the Dalworth Recreation Center live at or below poverty level. Most of these youths are provided free breakfast and lunch via the school district, but in some instances, are not fed an evening meal to sustain them through the night. Officer Castaneda solicited donations from local churches, organizations, and individuals in order to feed 75 youths every Thursday evening throughout the summer. After this was accomplished, he contacted numerous vendors to negotiate pricing for five different meals for dinner variety. Finally, Officer Castaneda paid the first Dinner P.A.R.T.Y. from his own pocket. Officer Castaneda is to be commended for his empathy, selfless service, and servant leadership.
Officer Jason Lozada
Officer Jason Lozada Richardson Police Department In 2006, the Richardson Police Department initiated a UNIDOS program, which would serve as the inaugural attempt at a Hispanic community outreach program. Initially, the Richardson Police Department hosted the UNIDOS program at an elementary school that served as a central location to the majority of the community’s Spanish-speaking residents. Typically, about 25 to 50 residents would attend the meetings and participate in the conversations. Although supervised by the Crime Prevention Sergeant, UNIDOS was actually operated and maintained by a volunteer committee of about six Spanish-speaking officers. One of the officers involved in UNIDOS since the inception was Jason Lozada. Growing up in Guayama, Puerto Rico, he was immersed in the Spanish language as a native speaker. Since joining the Richardson Police Department in 2006, Officer Lozada routinely volunteered to assist in community outreach efforts involving the Hispanic community, especially during his service in Patrol Operations. He would primarily assist UNIDOS through a support role, as he routinely worked the midnight shift. However in 2012, Officer Lozada was transferred to the School Resource Officer Unit, where he found his new assignment in a junior high that hosted many Spanish-speaking students from west Richardson. Ultimately, the primary officer responsible for UNIDOS left the Department in early 2016, and the program had started to deteriorate. Attendance was extremely low, with the typical attendance being usually less than 20 residents. The program no longer engaged the community, and the Department wanted to explore new ways to connect with this important population (almost 18% of Richardson). Officer Lozada volunteered to assume the leadership role and committed himself to restoring the program. Within a matter of months, Officer Lozada had established a new relationship with the Catholic community and introduced UNIDOS into the congregation of Saint Paul the Apostle. Outside his normal work hours (and frequently on the weekends), Officer Lozada would attend worship services and youth ministry events that were conducted in only Spanish. He became the new face of the Richardson Police Department for the Hispanic community, and the residents began to trust him. Ultimately, his efforts were rewarded with the recent May 11, 2017 meeting of the Richardson UNIDOS program, where a record 250+ adults and 50+ children attended. The meeting was the first of its kind hosted inside the church, and Officer Lozada arranged for donated gifts as door prizes – including a new bicycle for a lucky child and personalized gift baskets for the adults. The topic that evening was immigration by a local attorney, and many residents were so engaged they broadcast the entire meeting on Facebook Live. The meeting ended with many hugs and tears, as the community told Officer Lozada how important he was to their neighborhood and they no longer feared the police. It is obvious Officer Lozada is a true public servant, and he went above and beyond to build new relationships in the Hispanic community. He restored a sense of trust to many that had lost faith in the local police, especially in today’s politically charged environment. In my opinion, through his work with UNIDOS, he had made a positive impact on both our profession and the Richardson community
SRO Fhallon Neifert
Fhallon Neifert DISD Police Department DISD School Resource Officer Fhallon Neifert took it upon herself to start the NTCC Campus Crime Stopper Program at Spruce High School. Officer Neifert paid for tip cards out of her own pocket which led to 7 major arrests in the first month. She continues to provide vital support to her school while training other School Resource Officers on how to expand the program. Officer Neifert is a true inspiration to her students and peers.
Officer Kimberly Sangarone
Kimberly Stangarone Dallas ISD Police Department Police Officer Kimberly Stangarone joined the Dallas ISD Police Department on April 8, 2013. Officer Stangarone works in Old East Dallas, at J. L. Long Middle School. On one occasion, she attempted to stop a student, but the student failed to respond to her verbal commands. She quickly realized the student was deaf and could not hear her instructions. In another incident, there was a problem between two deaf students, but Officer Stangarone had to wait for an extended period of time for an interpreter. Seeing the inability to effectively communicate with the students, as a barrier to being able to safely do her job and serve her community, she decided to do something about it. Officer Stangarone has took a vested interest in learning about the deaf community, on her own personal time. Officer Stangarone began taking sign language classes at local community colleges so she could communicate with her students. She has taken two classes in American Sign Language, courses in Fingerspelling, Number and Introduction to Interpreting. She has continued to learn on her own by reaching out to the deaf community and has received recognition from community groups for her efforts. In addition to English and American Sign Language, Officer Stangarone also speaks Spanish. She has on several occasions translated from American Sign Language to Spanish to help ensure that every involved party has the chance to communicate. This is a very challenging and a skill that few teachers in the school district possess, and certainly no other police officer on the force. She has truly taken her commitment to serve the community, the entire community, to heart. She was recently invited to Austin, Texas to attend the Texas Symposium on Deafblindness, by a member of the Office of Juvenile Justice. Her efforts have gained positive national and local media attention for the department, and police profession as a whole, to serve the community. She has demonstrated the dedication and determination to serve that certainly warrants recognition from the North Texas Police Chief’s Association. Craig R. Miller Chief of Police Dallas ISD Police Officer
Detective Heath Wester
Detective Heath Wester has been working with the Grand Prairie Police Department’s Santa Cop program for 20 years and has been the coordinator for the last three. Santa Cop annually takes care of 400 to 500 families and between 1,000 to 1,200 kids. This last year, the program serviced 400 families and 1,200 children. Detective Wester submits applications each year with Toys for Tots and also raises money and shops for additional toys, spending $5,000 to $10,000 for these needy Grand Prairie kids. In addition, Santa Cop furnishes winter gloves, caps, tooth brushes, toothpaste, and backpacks and each family is also given a box of food that normally will last them a week. Detective Wester, and his volunteers, generally start preparing the warehouse the week before Thanksgiving and work nightly, on some on weekends, and on his days off to ensure the program delivers these gifts and needed essentials to these deserving families. In addition to coordinating the volunteers, completing the needed shopping, and putting in an immense amount of volunteer time, Detective Wester also coordinates with local churches, oversees the Santa Cop warehouse space throughout the year, and manages the deliver night. I proudly recommend Detective Wester for Officer of the Month. In addition to serving as a faithful public servant for our city, he goes above-and-beyond, on his own time each year, to ensure children in our community are able to enjoy a happy holiday. Chief Steve Dye Grand Prairie Police Department
Officer Jonathan Plunkett
I would like to recommend Officer Jonathon Plunkett for consideration of the North Texas Police Chief’s Officer of the Month recognition. Officer Plunkett has been employed as an Irving Police Officer for 25 years and assigned to the Gang Unit for the past 18 years. He has twice been recognized as the Officer of the Year an award decided by his peers. He is an outstanding police officer and continually sets himself apart from other officers through his work ethic, integrity, and determination. This is not the reason for my recommendation. In July of 2016, after the Dallas police shootings, Officer Plunkett came to me out of concern for our relationship with the African-American community. After a expressing my confidence in our relationship with the NAACP, he made a very profound statement. “Not all African-Americans feel connected to the NAACP.” As we continued our conversation, it became clear to me that there was a segment of the African-American community we may be missing in our out-reach efforts. Officer Plunkett related conversations he has had in his barbershop with other customers, many of whom did not know he was a police officer, about the challenges of policing. After listening to Officer Plunkett, I recommended that we reach out to barbershops as a way to have conversations with the community in an environment where they felt comfortable. That we use the shop owners to facilitate those conversations and champion the outreach efforts. Officer Plunkett started immediately. Officer Plunkett has taken ownership of this new outreach effort. He has established contacts with 6 barbershops and their owners. He has been able to schedule outreach events in 5 of those shops but more importantly, he continues to foster those relationships, look for new shops to include, and personally take the beat officers to these shops and make introductions to the shop owners. The events we have held at these barbershops have been very well received. The customers have been appreciative of our openness and availability. The conversations have been productive, both from the standpoint of the customer learning about law enforcement and the officer learning about the customers. The shop owners have embraced this effort and continue to look for ways to make the outreach better. All of this success is due to the diligent efforts of Officer Plunkett and his desire to ensure the relationship between the Irving Police Department and the African-American Community remained strong and continues to grow. I believe that this is exactly the type of effort for which we should recognize our employees. Thank you for your consideration; Jeff Spivey, Assistant Chief of Police, Irving Police Department
Officer Joe Mellow
Officer Mello has served as a Law Enforcement Officer for more than 28 years, with just over 17 of them with Haltom City. After responding to an overdose death, Officer Mello began extensively researching NARCAN and possible deployment by Law Enforcement personnel. His research included contact with various and numerous agencies and personnel from Law Enforcement, Fire Department, Medical professionals, and even vendors over months of both duty and off-duty time.
His research resulted in a thorough professional presentation to the Haltom City Fire Department and the Medical Director of our emergency services district. This was not an easy sell, but because of his passion, commitment, and research, an Opioid overdose program has been implemented in Haltom City, greatly increasing the awareness and dangers of Opioid addiction and overdoses both internally in the city and other agencies who have also embraced the program.
The implementation of our City wide program helped spear head an Opioid Reduction and Recovery Initiative in Tarrant County within the MHMR Unity. This initiative will be grant funded and aimed not only to aid agencies in getting NARCAN, but also provide training, tracking, and rehabilitation of any individuals that NARCAN was administered to.
Although as a department we cannot say the implementation of this program has directly saved a life yet, there is no doubt that due to his diligence, research, and implementation of this program, there will be! Upon implementation of this program, numerous media outlets from across the nation reported on our deployment and training of officers for deployment of NARCAN and we are still receiving request from agencies across the country for our program and policies associated with NARCAN so they may implement similar programs in their communities.
Thank you Officer Mello for having the forethought and fortitude to acknowledge a formidable problem amidst skepticism and lack of knowledge that now has the momentum it deserves and the potential to save countless lives!