The Committee of Ninety-Nine of Tallahassee/Leon County held its 38th annual Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Banquet the past Thursday evening, March 28, 2019 at the Ballroom of the Holiday Inn East Capital in Tallahassee.
The organization was started in 1981 by local Tallahassee business leaders from all areas of business and commerce and to demonstrate to the local city and county law enforcement that the community was solidly behind its law enforcement officers.
Both the Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil and the City of Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo were present along with a cadre of past Officer of the Year award winners, nominees for the 2019 award and business leaders and members from around Tallahassee.
The Committee presents four (4) major awards during the night.
The John A. “Jack:” Madigan award was presented by Terry Madigan, former Committee of 99 President, to an outstanding citizen, Joshua Quick, for his exceptional efforts in assisting our law enforcement. Mr. Quick’s heroic actions saved the lives of nine of eleven people who were inside the Hot Yoga business when a suspect started shooting at the class attendees.
The next award, the Ernest Ponce de Leon Award, named after a TPD officer who was killed in a shoot-out in the 1980’s, was awarded to a young lady, Kayla Sapp. Ms. Sapp acts as the “McGruff” and Easter Bunny mascots for the LCSO and represents a compelling community outreach component delivering cheer and crime fighting awareness to citizens throughout our county young and old. She is also involved in the teen advisory council providing feedback for a LCSO/MADD community outreach program, working to create new, positive and entertaining events for high school and college students.
The Sheriff Larry Campbell Distinguished Career Service Award is given to an officer who has demonstrated a career of involvement, leadership and outstanding service to the community. There were two nominees: Undersheriff David Folsom (LCSO) and Deputy Chief Darrell Furuseth (TPD). These nominees are a few of our best and brightest leaders in law enforcement and in our community. The Committee, along with Chief DeLeo awarded Deputy Chief Darrell Furuseth (newly retired) for his exemplary service in law enforcement.
Deputy Chief Darrell Furuseth has been a member of the Tallahassee Police Department for over 28 years. During his career, Deputy Chief Furuseth served in a variety of different roles. He has been a Field Training Officer, a member of the Tactical Support Unit, a sniper on the Tactical Apprehension and Control Team, an Investigator with the Burglary Unit and also with the Sex Crimes Unit before he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2004.
As a Sergeant, he supervised uniformed patrol squads, Field Training squads and the Violent Crimes Unit. He continued to rise through the ranks and performed the duties of a Lieutenant in the Criminal Investigations Bureau. During this time, he oversaw the Persons Section which included the Special Victims Unit, the Robbery Unit, the Homicide Unit and Victims’ Advocates. He was able to juggle the demands of that position while also serving as the Commander of the Tactical Apprehension and Control Team. Deputy Chief Furuseth was promoted to Captain in 2011 and three years later he was named Deputy Chief. He also represented the Department as a member of Refuge House and Riley House Boards of Directors. Additionally, he participated in the Police Unity Tour (a bicycle ride from Virginia to the National Police Memorial in Washington, D.C. to raise funds to assist the survivors of Officers killed in the line of duty).
Throughout his career, Deputy Chief Furuseth has received numerous commendations from citizens whose lives were positively impacted by their interaction with him. In one case, a sexual battery victim wrote how his compassion and professionalism at that horrific time in her life helped her to recover and to understand that all men are not evil. She added that he helped her regain faith in the world. Comments about him were consistent, Deputy Chief Furuseth was always compassionate, empathetic and professional.
His file is also replete with commendations from fellow Law Enforcement Professionals and others in the Criminal Justice System. His leadership also resulted in awards for the units that he supervised. In 2009 and in 2012 his Violent Crimes Detail received a Unit Citation Award.
In conclusion, Deputy Chief Furuseth honorably served the citizens of Tallahassee for nearly three decades. He demonstrated dedication and selfless service throughout his career and set an example for all Officers under his command.
The closing presentation goes to a law enforcement officer who during the previous 12 months, performed some outstanding service or act of bravery in the community. This year, the two nominees for Law Enforcement Officer of the Year were Sergeant Paul Salvo (LCSO) and Investigator Elizabeth Bascom (TPD). Both Sheriff McNeil and Chief DeLeo shared remarks of their nominees’ strong work ethic and high standards of service. The Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award was presented to Investigator Elizabeth Bascom.
Investigator Elizabeth Bascom is a veteran Police Officer with nearly 24 years of distinguished service. She is currently assigned to the Special Victims Unit and is passionate in protecting the most vulnerable in our society. Her work in the area of sex trafficking of minors is the basis of this nomination.
In early 2018, Investigator Bascom received a report of a 17-year-old missing male who had previously been reported missing ten times in the previously three months. She was able to locate the juvenile, establish a rapport with him and gain his trust. It was learned that an older male had been sexually abusing the juvenile. Investigator Bascom identified the predator who was a registered sex offender from out of state. That subject was charged with multiple counts including Human Trafficking, Unlawful Sex Acts with a Minor and Promoting the Sexual Performance of a Child.
In March 2018, Investigator Bascom investigated the case of two juvenile runaways. She obtained search warrant for multiple social media accounts and discovered that the juveniles were being sexually exploited for money. Her efforts resulted in the arrest of two men who were charged with multiple counts including Human Trafficking, Unlawful Sex Acts with Minors, Online Solicitation of a minor and Child Abuse.
In November of 2018 Investigator Bascom learned that a 14-year-old female was being sexually exploited through on-line services. She reacted quickly, enlisted the help of additional investigators and within hours located the child at a local hotel as she was dropped off by two adult men with the intent of engaging in sexual contact in exchange for money. The vehicle used contained cocaine and drug paraphernalia. This child had been abused from age 13 and was preyed upon by being provided with narcotics. Again, the resulting charges included Human Trafficking and Lewd and Lascivious Battery.
Investigator Bascom’s tenacity and passion for helping the most vulnerable of victims is evident in her work. Her ability to establish a rapport with juvenile victim’s plays a large part in her success in these difficult cases.
The event was presided over by Committee of 99 President Mac McLendon.