Of The Year Award Recipients, 2020
Brennam Pekar, Civilian of the Year
Electronic Security Design Specialist Brennam Pekar received multiple nominations for this accolade. He was praised for his role in the implementation of the department's COVID-19 response program. He met tough deadlines, dealt with changing operational requirements and ensured that testing sites had operational security measures in place. As part of the new processes put in place, he helped to deploy screening pedestals that assured the security of personal protection equipment locations. He also aided in data projects that could thwart any attempts at misappropriations of personal protective equipment.
During this challenging year, Brennam showed a willingness to teach and aid in the development of those around him by embracing innovation and nurturing partnerships.
For putting in additional effort into the assurance of the safety and security of both institutions we serve and for his unwavering professionalism, Brennam Pekar was awarded Civilian of the Year.
Carol Walker, Telecommunicator of the Year
great skill in handling the calls that enter the Risk Operations Center or while on duty as a radio operator. She has shown proficient skills in her handling of calls to the ROC, ensuring that the information needed to assist the person on the line is obtained quickly.
This year, her work duties included being assigned to the Public Safety Officers Radio channel which carries the majority of all radio traffic into the ROC. This task is one she purposely chose by requesting to be on a shift where she knew she would be assigned to manage this radio channel. Her nomination spoke to her mastery of this task while also processing alarms to be dispatched and monitoring fire alarm systems.
Outside of her work duties, Carol has volunteered her time to charity events, such as the annual UT Police toy drive and MD Anderson's Food Drive. She also is an enthusiastic member of the ROC’s Spirit Committee, which recognizes ROC employee’s birthdays, holidays, and other significant events.
For her exceptional work ethic and community spirit, Carol Walker was awarded Telecommunicator of the Year.
Melissa Perez, Public Safety Officer of the Year
Public Safety Officer Melissa Perez goes over and above to show how much she cares about UT Police, her teammates and the community she serves. Perez has been a member of the UT Police's Uniformed Security Operations team since 2006 and has served as a member of the UT Police bike patrol for the past two years.
PSO Perez has regularly volunteered her time to the UT Police Children's Gift Drive, where she contributes to the distribution of gifts for deserving children. Her participation in events like this come as no surprise to her coworkers who all agree that she has a heart of gold. The community could say the same about the level of care she shows on the job. PSO Perez was recently recognized with a Humanitarian Service Medal for assisting a wheelchair-bound patient in distress.
It is actions like this and many others that serve as evidence of PSO Perez's compassion.
For her service our department and our community, Melissa Perez was awarded Public Safety Officer of the Year.
James Gonzales, Investigator of the Year
Investigator James Gonzales has demonstrated an ability and an enthusiasm in supporting the mission and vision of UT Police.
During the past year, Gonzales was assigned 136 cases, several of which were major crime scenes. Seven cases were cleared by arrest, 6 cases were exceptionally cleared, 10 cases were unfounded and 27 cases were closed. While managing this healthy caseload, he continued to meet training deadlines and to assist in other investigations throughout the department.
His team commends James for his attention to detail and describe him a self-motivated individual. His contributions to the investigations team are top notch.
For his exceptional job with assignments and investigations, James Gonzales was named Investigator of the Year.
Philip Nguyen, Rookie of the Year
Since his completion of the Field Training Program, Officer Phillip Nguyen has proven himself an asset to the Day shift crew. Over the last year, Officer Nguyen conducted more than 170 traffic stops, generated over 100 reports, issued 190 citations and issued 34 written or verbal warnings. He also logged over 300 field contacts during his time in patrol and conducted patrols that resulted in 10 arrests and 8 arrests for open warrants.
He has been able to bring charges or execute warrants on several cases. Notably, he was instrumental in the arrest of two car theft suspects, and the subsequent collaboration between UT Police and the HPD Auto Theft Task Force. His actions in the case earned him a Certificate of Merit.
For his hard work and dedication, Officer Philip Nguyen has the honor of being named Rookie of the Year.
Alondra Jones, Officer of the Year
Officer Alondra Jones has shown to be a valuable asset to the department, specifically in her ability to communicate with professionalism and compassion toward mental health consumers.
As an example, one that also earned her a Medal of Valor, Officer Alondra Jones' actions resulted in a positive outcome towards a person wielding a knife and behaving aggressively at HCPC. Demonstrating compassion and composure under the intense encounter, she engaged the individual with de-escalation tactics until back up arrived.
Officer Jones is described as a versatile officer who performs a broad range of assignments with efficiency and accuracy, and as someone who approaches even the most difficult calls with professionalism and empathy.
For her show of strength, courage, compassion and dedication, Alondra Jones was selected as Officer of the Year.