March 2017 County Employees of the Month: Kesha Beckley and Nicole Mauro
Kesha Beckley, an Assistant Shift Supervisor and Nicole Mauro, a Telecommunicator I—both with the Office of Public Safety Communications—were selected as Prince William County Government's Employees of the Month for March 2017. They were nominated by Alfred Miller, director of the Office of Public Safety Communications.
For several weeks in the summer of 2016, many 9-1-1 calls were received from untraceable phones, reporting police and medical emergencies that proved to be false. This illegal practice, commonly known as "SWATting," takes fires-responders away from real emergencies while they respond to and investigate false calls. The arrival of police and fire/EMS services, at all hours of the day and night, to business and residences that had no emergencies unduly alarmed people as well.
On Nov. 7, 2016, Nicole answered a 9-1-1 call reporting a medical emergency. She recognized the caller's voice from earlier false calls and was able to track down the individual. Kesha, a supervisor, conducted a tandem investigation that connected the individual to other prior false calls. Their information was turned over to the Police Department and the individual was soon arrested. Since his arrest, the false calls have stopped.
"Nicole and Kesha did the right thing for the safety of their customers: the first responders and the public," Fred wrote in his nomination. "It is not their responsibility to investigate and solve crimes but when the opportunity to end this dangerous and illegal practice arose, their teamwork and innovation helped stop this individual and they exceeded expectations for the quality of their work." For this, they truly deserve the Employee of the Month Award for March 2017.
October 2016 County Employee of the Month: Ivan Perez
Ivan Perez, Jr., Radio Systems Administrator with the Office of Public Safety Communications, was selected as Prince William County Government's Employee of the Month for October 2016. He was nominated by Michele A. Surdam, Technical Programs Manager with Public Safety Communications.
In June 2015 Public Safety Communications (PSC) rolled out a new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system and the roll-out was not without its challenges. Ivan oversees all issues related to the 800-megahertz radio and voice-logging systems; and he ensures that Federal Communications Commission compliance is maintained, as well as system interoperability. Although CAD was designed to work in tandem with other systems, one component – the fire station alerting system – was not functioning as expected.
The vendor spent months troubleshooting the issue and, when a solution was found, a technician was sent to PSC to install needed equipment. Although the fire station alerting system is not under Ivan's purview, he stayed well past his scheduled work day – until midnight – to assist the technician because Ivan has an intimate knowledge of the wiring and power supply at the Communications Center, and his assistance was of significant help.
"Ivan never said 'it's not my job' but instead offered to help in order to make the system more effective and safe," Michele wrote in her nomination. "A few weeks later, the Department of Fire & Rescue was tasked with conducting a major inventory on radios and other equipment and again, Ivan stayed past his scheduled shift for several days to assist with this project. He always offers assistance to others, even when they are not in his direct chain of command." For this, he truly deserves the Employee of the Month Award for October 2016.
May 2016 County Employee of the Month: Mesheka L. Cunningham
Mesheka L. Cunningham, a Telecommunicator III with the Office of Public Safety Communications (OPSC), was selected as Prince William County Government's Employee of the Month for May 2016. She was nominated by Heidi Braun, director of Public Safety Communications.
Mesheka was dispatching on the police radio on Feb. 27, 2016. At around 5:20 p.m. officers responded to a domestic-in-progress call. Upon arrival, the three officers were ambushed by a person with a rifle; all three were shot. Immediately, Mesheka took control of the radio, calling a "Signal 1" – which means officers need immediate assistance – and directed other officers as they responded. She repeated necessary information so that arriving officers had adequate information regarding the suspect's location and type of weapon, and she requested trauma kits to be delivered to the scene for the officers who were shot. She anticipated the information that would be needed and provided it without prompting.
"This is, by far, the worst-case scenario that any dispatcher can face," Heidi wrote in her nomination. "TCIII Cunningham's radio traffic was posted nationally via apps that capture police radio traffic. I have received comments from dispatchers as far away as California, Texas and Washington state regarding Mesheka's incredible radio traffic and that she was the consummate professional during this tragic time."
At the funeral of a line-of-duty death of a police officer, there is a 'final call' that is broadcast over the radio. This is a symbolic and meaningful gesture that is the final farewell to the fallen officer. This is not an easy task but when Mesheka was asked if she would be willing to deliver the final call, she accepted the honor and refused to pre-record it but did it live – an extremely emotional environment for the listeners and the person delivering it. For this, she truly deserves the Employee of the Month Award for May 2016.