Nov. 18, 2002 – In a year when a soaring homicide rate and a lagging economy have the territory's crime fighters facing tough and trying times, the U.S. Attorney's Office presented its first Law Enforcement Officer, or LEO, Awards to recognize those who stand out for their hard work and dedication to law-enforcement.
"What you're seeing here is the best in the Virgin Islands," U.S. Attorney David Nissman said at the ceremony held Friday at Government House on St. Croix. "These officers have really performed heroically."
The LEO Awards, which are to be given annually, honor "unsung heroes," Nissman said. Thirteen current officials, one agency and one deceased official were recognized.
"Members of law enforcement do their jobs — whether it is patrolling a beat, investigating a case or preparing for a criminal or civil trial — with little fanfare and for modest remuneration," Nissman said. "Their reward is the satisfaction of knowing that their efforts contribute to the security and the well-being of the community."
Fifteen plaques hand-carved in mahogany by Nissman and his son were presented to the honorees or their representatives. The recipients were selected by the Offices of the U.S. Attorney and the V.I. Attorney General.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull was represented by his legal counsel, Paul Hernandez, at the ceremony. "These men and women do their job not for glory or money; they do it because of what's in their hearts," Hernandez said.
The award recipients were:
– Samuel Abraham, Police Department detective.
– Tom R. Barbee, Federal Emergency Management Agency special agent in charge.
– Angel Diaz, Police Department detective.
– Elmer Foster, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms special agent.
– Curtis A. Griffin, Police Department.
– Greg Gumbs, U.S. Customs Service inspector.
– Hillary Hodge Jr., U.S. Customs Service special agent.
– Christopher Howell, Police Department detective.
– David Levering, Immigration and Naturalization Service special agent.
– Robert Martinez, Fire Service inspector.
– Leonard Reed, Planning and Natural Resources Department assistant director.
– James Rhymer, Police Department detective, given posthumously.
– Joel Tutein, National Park Service superintendent.
– Linda Valerino, U.S. Marshal's Service deputy marshal.
– The FBI's V.I. field office.
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