Mayor Chris Beutler today presented the Mayor's Award of Excellence for September to a team from the City's Police and Building and Safety Departments. The team includes Sergeant Larry Barksdale and Police Officer Matthew Franken of the Police Criminal Investigations Section and Fire Investigator Kenneth Hilger of Building and Safety's Fire Prevention Division. 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.
Police Sergeant Ken Koziol and Chief Fire Prevention Inspector Bill Moody nominated the team in the category of productivity for their work on the fire that destroyed the LPS administration building May 30. Because of their efforts, a suspect was arrested August 15 and is now charged with second-degree arson.
In addition to the monetary loss estimated at 20-million-dollars, LPS employees lost many personal possessions and were displaced as they prepared for the start of school in the fall.
Hilger's preliminary investigation of the cause and origin determined no ignition source could have accidently started the fire. He began to investigate the possibility that the fire was set intentionally and requested assistance from LPD's Criminal Investigation Unit.
Sgt. Barksdale, who is in charge of arson investigations, managed the case. He and Investigator Franken tape recorded several interviews, and information suggested an employee could be a suspect. An interview with the suspect on August 15 led to the suspect's arrest.
In their nomination, Koziol and Moody wrote: "Barksdale, Franken and Hilger did an incredible job of working together and bringing this case to a successful conclusion. The LPS employees showed great courage and resiliency in picking up the pieces and ensuring the fine education of our students would continue. It was very important for all of them and the citizens of Lincoln to heal and this arrest was a very important step."
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are customer relations, loss prevention, safety and valor. 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 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.