Of the Year Award Recipients, 2023

Sylvia Arrizola, Leadership Award

The inaugural recipient of this award has the 5 essential elements of a leader which are communication, knowing your staff, self-awareness, diplomacy and seeking feedback. She makes sure the division stays within budget to accomplish our goals and mission.  

Because of her hard work and dedication to the division, the Leadership Award recipient is Sylvia Arrizola. 

Alma Garza, Civilian of the Year

Alma diligently works to maintain the integrity of law enforcement reports and records scrutinizing them to ensure accuracy as well as the time sensitive and mandatory annual reports. Her attention to detail and her proficient work ethic adds value to our division and to those that we serve. She proves to be an indispensable resource for the Assessment Center and Professional History Portfolio ensuring that her team has all of the required documentation needed by officers that participate as well as the Assessor Team for scoring.  

Because of her willingness to always be a team player, the Civilian of the Year is Alma Garza 

Lester Smith, Public Safety Officer of the Year

is always readily available to assist when needed, whether it is a special project or an event. He was assigned to perform extra patrols in sensitive areas to report any unsecured doors, hallway obstructions, lighting outages or fixtures and other components that make sure the building and staff are safe and secure.  

 A recipient of the Distinguished Service award as well as the Award of Excellence this year, the Public Safety Officer of the Year is Senior Public Safety Officer, Lester Smith. 

Philip Nguyen, Investigator of the Year

Officer Nguyen joined the Threat Management Team on a temporary basis and quickly transitioned to a more permanent assignment. He was assigned 240 investigations and completed over 1000 supplements related to those investigations. His investigative and mitigation skills allow him to identify the situational factors of a case and address them appropriately with effective responses to keep the situation from escalating to violent outcomes.  

Because of his valuable contributions to the Threat Management Team, the Investigator of the Year is Officer Philip Nguyen 

Kira Darby, Telecommunicator of the Year

Kira always has awareness of what is happening in the Risk Operations Center. At the end of her shifts, she checks the calls to ensure that the source and nature codes as well as the dispositions are correct and notifies the supervisor throughout the day of any calls that may need attention. She remains calm under pressure and maintains that calm throughout the event.  

Because of her ability to ensure a successful shift by being proactive in her thoughts and actions, Kira Darby is the Telecommunicator of the Year.  

Tito Latiff, Supervisor of the Year

Tito joined the Risk Operations Center as a Police Telecommunicator and became a top performer in the center. He began his career with UT Police in 2008 as a Public Safety Officer and in 2018, earned a promotion to Risk Operations Center Supervisor. He proves to be a great leader because he shows those that report to him that he cares, is truthful and has a strong moral compass.  

Because of his consistent application of directives, helping in whatever way he can, and dedication to improving his team member’s skills, the Supervisor of the Year is Robert “Tito” Latiff.

Walter Spivey, Police Officer of the Year

Sgt. Spivey has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to UT Police at Houston, the institutions and community we serve. He models safe and ethical behavior that mitigates risk to the institution through sound business practices. He also was recently promoted to sergeant and completed his criminal justice degree 

Because of his work ethic, dedication to bringing a positive energy and willingness to assist, which also keeping the UTHealth Houston and MD Anderson community safe this year’s Police Officer of the Year is Sgt. Walter Spivey