Saturday night marked the Fourth Annual Sheriff’s Gala to benefit the Flagler Sheriff’s Employee Assistance Trust (FSEAT). Nearly 300 guests attended the event held at the Hammock Beach Resort.
Headlining the Sheriff’s Gala, Sheriff Rick Staly recognized members of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, volunteers and citizens for outstanding service to the community in 2020 and 2021. Sheriff Staly presented awards for Law Enforcement Deputy of the Year, Detention Deputy of the Year, Civilian Employee of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Citizens of the Year. FSEAT provided each award recipient with tickets to the Sheriff’s Gala for themselves and a guest. This year’s Sheriff’s Gala was dedicated to fallen Detention DFC Paul Luciano.
Local businesses, organizations and individuals sponsored and supported the event including Dan Newlin Injury Attorneys, who was this year’s Premier Platinum Sheriff’s Sponsor.
“Our community and sponsors continue to impress me with their incredible generosity and support they have shown for the men and women of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office through their donations and sponsorships,” Sheriff Staly said. “We mourned the loss of Detention Deputy First Class Luciano in August of 2021 after his line-of-duty death. FSEAT played an active role in providing financial assistance for his family and is a great example of the importance of the FSEAT mission. I want to personally thank all the sponsors, attendees and all who contributed to FSEAT in making the Fourth Annual Sheriff’s Gala a huge success!”
Sheriff Staly created FSEAT in 2017 to provide financial assistance to FCSO employees during a personal crisis, in support of a fallen deputy’s family and to recognize and always remember FCSO deputies killed in the line of duty. In 2017, Sheriff Staly appointed members of the community to the FSEAT Board, which is independently operated as a 501(C)(3) tax deductible charity. “I would like to thank the FSEAT Board for delivering another fantastic Sheriff’s Gala,” added Staly. “A special thank you to retiring Board members Frank DeAngelo and Don Madden for their guidance, support, enthusiasm and dedication for taking a vision and idea and then planning and delivering the Sheriff’s Gala for the last four years!”
Master Deputy Crista Rainey – 2021 Law Enforcement Deputy of the Year
From traffic stops ending in the apprehension of an out-of-state murder suspect to helping save the life of a teenage girl, Master Deputy Rainey made a true difference in Flagler County in 2021. Working together with other divisions, and even other emergency agencies, Master Deputy Rainey has caught the attention of her peers, supervisors and law enforcement advocates across the region. Earlier this year, Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida named Master Deputy Rainey the 2021 Northeast Florida Officer of the Year. Her ability to perform under pressure and help coordinate and achieve the goals of any mission made Master Deputy Crista Rainey the FCSO’s distinguished selection of the 2021 Deputy of the Year award.
Deputy First Class Paul Luciano – 2021 Detention Deputy of the Year
DFC Luciano is being recognized as the Detention Deputy of the Year posthumously after he contracted COVID-19 while working in the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility. DFC Luciano had been assigned to the COVID-19 inmate cell block at the jail. This year’s Sheriff’s Gala was dedicated to his memory. The award was accepted by his wife, Carrie and family.
Nichole North – 2021 Civilian Employee of the Year
As a Senior Analyst in the Real Time Crime Center (RTCC), North plays a vital role in helping the FCSO in solving all levels of crimes, handling a wide array of emergency requests, as well as training new analysts for the RTCC. Making a daily difference in the safety of every Flagler County citizen, North works diligently every shift to find the high tech answers the FCSO needs to be successful in the field. The FCSO is proud to select RTCC Senior Analyst Nichole North as the FCSO 2021 Employee of the Year.
Gina Walters – 2021 Citizen of the Year
On July 26, Citizen Gina Walters was the first person to begin to work with a juvenile threatening to jump off of an I-95 overpass. She began to talk to her and keep her calm until law enforcement arrived. With multiple emergency responders helping save the girl’s life that day, it was the initial contact by Walters which helped make the rescue a successful one. Her quick thinking and desire to take action when a life was on the line made Gina Walters the FCSO 2021 Citizen of the Year.
C.O.P. Chief Michael Muller – 2021 Volunteer of the Year
For his dedicated leadership within the Citizens Observer Patrol (C.O.P.) program, Muller has been a member of the COP program for 9 years and served as the volunteer Chief of the COP program for 4 of those years until his retirement. Through Muller’s leadership and innovation, the COP program currently has over 70 members that assist the citizens of Flagler County and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office in tremendous ways. The COP program added a Courthouse Unit, Marine Unit, and an ATV Unit during his time as Chief.
A Sheriff’s Gala was not held in 2021 due to the pandemic. The following awards were previously awarded to the following individuals in a private ceremony. However, all 2020 recipients were recognized at this year’s Sheriff’s Gala and provided with complimentary tickets to the Gala for themselves and a guest.
Detective Corporal Agustin Rodriguez – 2020 Law Enforcement Deputy of the Year
Solving major crimes in 2020 often went through the hands of Detective Corporal Agustin Rodriguez. Gunmen behind two separate armed robberies of Flagler County homes didn’t stay on the run for long with Detective Corporal Rodriguez on the case. A dangerous day in January 2020 began with a suspect shooting at an occupied car. Through investigative techniques and tireless efforts, Rodriquez would eventually negotiate a peaceful surrender to finally get his man. His knowledge of the community and growing experience with the latest in crime fighting technology made it an easy decision for the FCSO to name Detective Corporal Agustin Rodriguez as the 2020 Deputy of the Year.
Detention Deputy Douglas Evans – 2020 Detention Deputy of the Year
Determination and hard work exemplified the service of the 2020 Detention Deputy of the Year. Detention Deputy Douglas Evans was known for being punctual, precise and willing to do what was needed to get the job done. From volunteering to serve as the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility Booking Secretary to conducting intelligence gathering through inmate communication monitoring, Evans would eventually earn a spot on the Corrections Special Operations Team at the “Green Roof Inn.” Known for his care and compassion for his superiors, co-workers and the inmates, he made a positive impact every day. Detention Deputy Douglas Evans was a clear favorite in selecting the 2020 FCSO Detention Deputy of the Year.
Communications Specialist First Class McKenzie Davis – 2020 Civilian Employee of the Year
Working with Flagler County residents in the worst moments of their lives are what makes Communications Specialist First Class McKenzie Davis the best choice as the FCS0’s 2020 Professional Support Employee of the Year. Whether it was calming down a mother of an unresponsive infant so she could give CPR instructions to save the child’s life, or helping save a toddler with a fever who was having trouble breathing, Davis provided a calm voice and focus to families when the lives of their loved ones were on the line. For her heroic actions in the field of emergency communication, the FCSO proudly presents the 2020 Professional Support Employee of the Year award to Communications Specialist First Class McKenzie Davis, who was also the Florida Sheriff’s Association Dispatcher of the Year!
Evelyn Gomes – 2020 Volunteer of the Year
For her volunteer work with the Fresh Friday Program at Buddy Taylor Middle School Sheriff’s Police Athletic League and coordinating donations to the Fresh Friday Rack led to making special connections with some of the children not only needing assistance, but a nurturing and loving helping hand. As relationships began to grow at the school through her outreach, it would grow into gifts from the heart as she made sure students had gifts in their hands at the holidays. For her willingness to do anything for anyone in need, the FCSO is excited to name Evelyn Gomes as the 2020 Volunteer of the Year.
More than $156,000 was raised for FSEAT to benefit the men and women of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
The Fifth Annual Sheriff’s Gala is scheduled for 2023 at the Hammock Beach Resort. For more information on FSEAT, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit www.FSEAT.org.