110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Mar 29, 2013 - 11:45:33am
Breathing new life into nearly 40 cold case murders dating back to 1957 is a daunting task for one Volusia County Sheriff’s investigator. That’s why the Sheriff’s Office decided to tap into a valuable community resource -- retired law enforcement officers willing to help with the investigations, and at no cost to the agency or taxpayers. Two volunteers were brought on board last year to help establish the Sheriff’s Office’s cold case homicide squad. They do everything from researching cases, organizing case files and identifying potential evidence and witnesses to tracking leads and preparing crime maps. So valuable was their assistance that one of the volunteers, retired Volusia County deputy William Maxwell, was named the Sheriff’s Office’s 2012 volunteer of the year.
Maxwell was on hand Wednesday night at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores to receive some well-deserved accolades, one of approximately 230 volunteers who were honored at the Sheriff’s Office’s 17th annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. “It’s so rewarding to see the men and women out here who always step up to the plate,” Sheriff Ben Johnson told the assembled crowd that included Sheriff’s Office volunteers, Sheriff’s Office staff and several County Council members who also were in attendance. “I don’t care when it is, and I don’t care what the circumstances are. If we need you, you are there.”
As they’ve been doing since 1989, citizen volunteers continue to help out the Sheriff’s Office in a variety of areas, including victim advocates, civilian patrols, court services, training, evidence, records, fleet management and civil. The Sheriff’s Office also has a group of volunteer Chaplains who assist deputies with death notifications and help counsel and comfort residents during times of crisis. All combined, Sheriff’s Office volunteers donated 55,157 hours of labor in the past year. Some of the 2012 highlights were as follows:
Volunteer citizen observers patrolled more than 326,000 miles, acting as an extra set of eyes and ears for deputies to help deter criminal activity. Since the inception of the Sheriff’s Office’s Citizens Observer Program in 1989, C.O.P. volunteers have patrolled in excess of 6.5 million miles and have fingerprinted more than 33,000 children in Volusia County for parent records.
Victim advocates worked 1,726 cases in 2012 and applied for $117,172 in compensation funds for local crime victims.
Sheriff’s Office Chaplains responded to 73 calls for service in 2012.
Sheriff Johnson thanked all of the volunteers for their service, noting that the challenging economic climate makes their contributions all the more worthwhile. “Now it’s more important than ever that we have our volunteers,” said Sheriff Johnson. “You’re doing things for us that we just absolutely couldn’t do -- or if we did, we’d have to stretch ourselves thinner in other places. These are things that get done because of men and women like you.”
In addition to the volunteer of the year, dozens of other volunteers also were singled out Wednesday night for awards, mostly based on their number of years or hours of service. Meanwhile, two volunteers -- Richard Dutka and Doug Howe -- were recognized as recipients of the President’s Call to Service Award. The award is designed to honor Americans who, through 4,000 or more hours of volunteerism, set an example that inspires others to volunteer service. The evening also included a special remembrance for nine former Sheriff’s Office volunteers who passed away since last year’s banquet.
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