City of Lincoln
2008 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler today presented the Mayor’s Award of Excellence for July to Officer Cynthia Koenig-Warnke of the Lincoln Police Department. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City. The award was presented at the beginning of today’s City Council meeting.
Koenig-Warnke has been with LPD for about 11 years, serving the last two years as an investigator with the Technical Investigation Unit. Sergeant Sandra Myers nominated her in the category of productivity. Myers stated in her nomination that Koenig-Warnke has become LPD’s expert on financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults. Koenig-Warnke recently received the 2007 Mayor’s Award of Excellence Honorable Mention for her work involving identity theft.
Officer Koenig-Warnke became involved in a case when an 89-year old woman was reported missing, and there were fears she was with a person who was financially exploiting her. Another agency had already investigated the case and took no action.
Koenig-Warnke interviewed family members and doctors and began gathering evidence. She had a new conservator appointed for the missing woman, so the flow of money from her bank account could be stopped. At that point, the loss totaled $70,000.
Koenig-Warnke tracked the woman and the female suspect to a small town in Mexico. With the help of an interpreter, she interviewed them and obtained new information on their situation and location. The victim has many health problems, and it was clear that she was not receiving the medical care she needed. Koenig-Warnke also suspected the victim was unaware of her circumstances.
Koenig-Warnke asked federal authorities and the embassy in Mexico to check on the woman’s welfare, but she received little assistance. At that point, she looked into going to Mexico herself to return the woman to Lincoln.
Officer Koenig-Warnke received $2,000 from the National White Collar Crime Center so she and Sgt. Robert Kubicek could travel to Mexico with the new conservator. Koenig-Warnke had never traveled to a foreign country, but Myers said she tackled the challenge with the same intensity and positive approach she had used throughout the investigation. She made travel arrangements, researched legal roadblocks and persuaded the embassy in Mexico to help.
The trio did encounter some obstacles and tense moments when the Mexican police were called on them. But Myers said Koenig-Warnke’s optimism and persistence paid off. The elderly woman was happy to see them and did return with them. Officer Koenig-Warnke arranged for home health care, and the woman is now living comfortably in her own home.
Myers, who noted in her nomination that Koenig-Warnke is a very compassionate and persistent investigator, said Koenig-Warnke’s genuine concern for the woman’s welfare and her desire to help were major factors that kept this investigation alive. Myers said this case is typical of the work Koenig-Warnke performs every day as she helps people who sometimes get overlooked.
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are customer relations, valor, safety and loss prevention. Consideration also may be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee’s job description.
All City employees are eligible for the Mayor’s Award of Excellence except for elected and appointed officials. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public. Nomination forms are available on the City Web site at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: personnel) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Personnel Department, which oversees the awards program.
All nominations are reviewed by the Mayor’s Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $100 U.S. savings bond, a day off with pay and a plaque. Monthly winners are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $500 U.S. savings bond, two days off with pay and a plaque.