May 4, 2011
For More Information
Contact: Gretl Plessinger
Correctional Employees Week
This first week in May is national Correctional Employees Week.
“Florida’s correctional employees in prisons and in our communities work bravely and tirelessly in hazardous conditions for the benefit of the citizens of Florida,” says Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss. “I cannot fully express how proud I am of the Department’s approximately 30,000 employees who do so much for their communities and for our great State. For these reasons I urge all Floridians to extend thanks and gratitude to all correctional employees throughout the state.”
Due to the combined efforts of corrections employees, the Department has continued to achieve successes in public safety and inmate reentry during this challenging economic time. Crime rates are dropping and admissions into prison have dramatically decreased.
To commemorate our week of statewide recognition, we hope to honor all DC employees, from line staff to leadership, by spotlighting a few individuals who exemplify who we are and what we do as a Department.
This week we will be showcasing individuals who represent the many hundreds of DC employees who work with sustained dedication to maintain public safety in our communities.
Today we’re highlighting some of the stellar Community Corrections employees from the Department’s Southern Region. They are: Key West Circuit 16’s Correctional Probation Supervisor Nina Lopez-Cantera; Tampa North’s Correctional Probation Specialist Jeff King; Pinellas Intake’s WPSO Supervisor Sandra Williams; and Circuit 15’s Correctional Probation Specialist Luis Trinidad.
Correctional Probation |
Supervisor Nina Lopez Cantera
Judging from her many accomplishments over the last decade or so, Correctional Probation Supervisor Nina Lopez Cantera must be an incredible multi-tasker. She began her career with the Florida Department of Corrections in 1991, starting as a Psychological Specialist at Dade Correctional Institution providing counseling services for mentally challenged inmates. She was designated Dade Correctional Institution’s Employee of the Year in 1996 and was a member of the Correctional Quality Managerial Leadership (CQML) Team which was responsible for training Region 4 employees on CQML theory and techniques. Nina was Sterling Showcase for quality presenter, and she received a Quality Performance Award for her role on the Regional CQML Lesson Plan Development Team. Nina served on several Corrective Action Teams to improve quality, including “Don’t Flush State Money down the Toilet” and the Inmate Wheelchair Repair Team, for which she earned a Davis Productivity Award.
In 1999, Nina transitioned to Probation and Parole, graduating at the top of her class and earning the Highest Academic Proficiency Award. As a probation officer with a drug offender caseload, Nina and the offenders would run on the 7-Mile Bridge as part of their rehabilitation. During her career as a Probation Officer, Nina has participated in numerous PCI’s and has been responsible for locating drugs, weapons and pornography on a Sexual Predator’s computer, making her community a safer place to live. Currently Nina is responsible for all sexual predators and sex offenders from Mile Marker 127 to Mile Marker 50 in Monroe County and supervision of the 16-2 Office. She also currently teaches a number of training classes for staff and re-entry classes for probationers. She also represents the Department as part of the Child Abduction Response Team in Monroe County.
|Correctional Probation |
Specialist Jeff King
Every good office has an employee like Tampa North Correctional Probation Specialist Jeff King. He is one of those jack-of-all-trades officers who is always willing to lend a hand, and who is crucial in a crisis. A 16-year corrections veteran, he currently supervises a close-risk caseload. He has been doing the In Service training for the 13-4 P&P Office for the last three years, and he also voluntarily (and uncomplainingly) conducts it for other offices when requested. Officer King is called on quite often to perform extra duties and to assist his colleagues when needed and he always does so willingly.
Recently, he assisted Correctional Probation Officer Christy Haynes with an offender on her caseload who was posing as an 18 year old, though he was actually 27 and was “dating” a 13-year-old girl. This was discovered when the girl’s family reported her as a missing child to law enforcement. Officer King worked with the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department for two to three days tirelessly until the case was resolved and the offender was apprehended.
King’s Supervisor, Ruth Benjamin has nothing but praise for Jeff noting, “He is a great asset to the 13-4 office. He is very conscientious in his work and clearly takes his job with the Department of Corrections seriously. His ‘Servant Leadership’ qualities will take him a long way and as a supervisor I enjoy working with Officer King and tapping into his wealth of knowledge.”
|Word Processing Systems |
Sandra Williams, like many of our employees, has a lot on her plate. In addition to working for Corrections as a Word Processing Systems Operator (WPSO) Supervisor in the Pinellas P&P Intake Office, she also works as a Customer Care Representative for Bright House answering complaints. In her limited off hours, she works with the youth at her church and she also likes to share stories about her nine-year-old granddaughter, who lives with her.
Sandra has been a Department of Corrections employee since May 30, 2003, starting as a Criminal Justice Technician in the Largo Office and Circuit Office until her promotion to WPSO in the Pinellas P&P Intake Office.
Sandra embodies the qualities most needed in her position: a positive attitude even when dealing with difficult situations and a keen eye for detail. Her supervisor Tom Bride notes that “Sandra is very organized and detail oriented. She is willing to provide assistance within her office and to staff throughout the Circuit.”
As every probation officer knows, a quality WPSO can make a huge difference in an intake (or any) probation facility, and Sandra’s experience, attitude and skill level makes her one of the best!
|Correctional Probation |
Specialist Luis Trinidad
Many of our employees have a variety of interests and accomplishments outside of their jobs, and Correctional Probation Specialist Luis Trinidad is no exception. A Catholic theologian, Luis is a Theology Professor for the School of Christian Formation in the Diocese of Palm Beach. He has a bachelor’s degree (Magna Cum Laude) in philosophy from St. John Vianney College Seminary, a master’s degree (Magna Cum Laude) in theology from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, and is a doctoral candidate from the Graduate Theology Foundation in Indiana.
Lake Worth CPS Trinidad has been with the Department of Corrections for 18 years working in a variety of Probation Officer positions. He is currently a Correctional Probation Specialist supervising sex offenders, prison releases and high risk cases in the 15-4 Lake Worth Office.
On the law enforcement front, he is a certified FDLE General Instructor and a Defensive Tactics Instructor. CPS Trinidad serves as the liaison for the Palm Beach County Law Enforcement community, providing assistance and information as needed. Jeff has coordinated numerous Planned Compliance Initiatives (sweeps of offenders’ homes, along with local law enforcement) and has conducted numerous offender warrantless searches. Luis is also a member of the US Marshal’s South Florida Fugitive Apprehension task force, as well as a member of the US Marshal’s Sex Offender Investigation Task Force and the Palm Beach County Sex Offender Task Force. As a Correctional Probation Specialist, he understands offenders and although he has a tough law enforcement exterior, he works with them to meet their re-entry goals. His supervisor notes simply, “He is a leader among his peers.”