AUSTIN – The Texas Public Safety Commission (PSC) and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw presented two Director's Citations, two Director's Awards and one Lifesaving Award to employees, as well as two civilians for their exemplary actions and service.
"DPS and the entire state of Texas are grateful to have so many true public servants who dedicate their time and careers to helping others, and today we are pleased to recognize just a few of those outstanding individuals," said Director McCraw. "Thank you for your commitment to service and your vigilant efforts to protect your fellow Texans and to help fight crime in your communities."
The following awards were presented today:
Criminal Investigations Division Special Agent Ben Allison and Special Agent Chris Barker, both CID in Texarkana, each received a Director's Citation. On Sept. 2, 2014, Allison and Barker were traveling on I-30 near Texarkana when they arrived at the scene of a major traffic collision, involving a semi-truck, its trailer and a work truck that were engulfed in flames. The DPS agents approached the work truck, which contained two trapped occupants, and began attempts to extinguish the flames. Three civilians were also at the scene using fire extinguishers in an effort to put out the flames. Despite all efforts, the fire eventually engulfed the entire truck, forcing rescuers to retreat. The two men inside the truck did not survive.
Vickie Fowler and Roxanna Ortiz, employees of Municipal Services Bureau (MSB), each received a Director's Award for their part in a fraud investigation. MSB is the contracted vendor for the state's Driver Responsibility Program, which features an indigent program that at the time reduced surcharges owed by individuals who have incomes at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level. While working at MSB, Ortiz and Fowler alerted DPS to possible fraud after identifying applications submitted on behalf of customers who should not have qualified for the DPS Indigency Program. During the subsequent DPS investigation, it was determined that the department had lost approximately $50,000 in legitimate surcharge fees, and the suspect was arrested and convicted of fraud.
Trooper Casey Dawson, Texas Highway Patrol in Borger, received a Lifesaving Award. On May 27, 2016, Trooper Dawson and Trooper Ben Dollar were dispatched to I-40 to locate a worker who was experiencing a medical emergency. When the troopers arrived at the scene, they observed that the male worker was having difficulty talking and he eventually experienced a seizure. Dawson, who has EMT experience, worked to assess the man's trauma level and provided first aid throughout the incident. Ultimately, Dawson performed CPR to help stabilize the man's condition and re-establish a pulse. He then continued to monitor the man's vital signs until EMS arrived.
In addition to the awards above, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators presented the department with the Public Affairs and Consumer Education (PACE) Award, which spotlights agencies that have committed their time and resources to outstanding consumer education programs. The DPS Driver License Division received the PACE Award as recognition for its internal electronic publication License to Drive magazine. The magazine is designed to promote employee engagement through compelling coverage of the people, places and events related to the division.
DPS was also recognized by the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC) with two awards – the Excellence Award and Rising Star Award. DPS received the TASSCC Excellence Award in the High Value Impact/High Value Business Impact category for the State Police Unified Reporting System (SPURS). Implemented in March 2016, SPURS is an enterprise system created to consolidate and incorporate all relevant data from multiple law enforcement divisions into a unified platform.
The TASSCC Rising Star Award, which recognizes up and coming government technology leaders who provide and contribute to organizational improvement through the use of technology, was presented to DPS IT developer Paul Brown.