It was officer Steve Warnaca’s day off and he was watching his daughter, but the Juneau Police Department was backed up with calls and they needed an extra set of hands. The solution — set up a makeshift day-care at work and help out wherever he could.
“He’s really good about going around JPD and doing his job in a way that makes other people’s jobs easier,” JPD Chief Bryce Johnson told the Empire during a phone call Tuesday. “That showed an incredible amount of dedication.”
Johnson awarded Warnaca and three other JPD employees for their outstanding work this past year in their individual categories. Warnaca was named Officer of the Year during a Saturday ceremony at the Westmark Baranof Hotel.
JPD Lt. David Campbell said the yearly award ceremony is different than quarterly award ceremonies that take place during the year. Those are decided by a committee for acts of bravery or life-saving events. The yearly awards are decided solely by Johnson, however, he does consider input from others.
Johnson said JPD dispatcher Christy Smith came to his attention not just for her excellent work, but after several officers nominated her for Dispatcher of the Year because of the above par support she offers while on the job.
“She’s just such a tremendous asset,” Johnson said, adding that her research skills prove helpful time and again. Smith was chosen out of 16 dispatchers in the department.
JPD records department employee Brian Youll received the Civilian of the Year award after he demonstrated his ability to work under great pressure this past year when the department dealt with multiple murders. Johnson said investigators relied on him often for help.
Johnson was also impressed by Youll’s work helping the department put together several multimedia presentations, just another example of his determination to step outside of his traditional role to deliver for the department whenever necessary.
Johnson also recognized Sgt. Chris Gifford Saturday for continuing to act as a hands-on leader in the work force. The chief said Gifford not only shows officer how to do day-to-day things but acts as a role model in the process.