Mayor Chris Beutler today will present the Mayor's Award of Excellence for August to Police Officer Christopher Fields from the Central Investigations Section of the Lincoln Police Department. The award will be presented at the beginning of today's City Council meeting at 3 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, County-City Building, 555 S. 10th St. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City.
Investigator Fields has worked for the City since 2008. He was nominated in the categories of customer relations and productivity by Sergeant Ben Miller for his work solving several cases over the last year.
Fields was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Unit in November of 2014 after working as a Patrol Officer his entire career. Last December, Fields followed up on a burglary of a child development center in which $14,000 was stolen.
He quickly identified a juvenile known to the owners as the likely suspect. Fields obtained the suspect's cell phone and immediately conducted a forensic analysis. He recovered text messages, Internet searches and photos which linked the suspect to the burglary. The phone information also identified several other co-conspirators in the burglary.
Fields determined that about half of the stolen money was used to purchase a vehicle for one of the suspects. He quickly seized the vehicle and arrested all the suspects. Although he was unable to recover the entire loss, he was able to recover the property purchased using the stolen funds.
In February, Fields was assigned another burglary with a reported loss of nearly $15,000. He quickly identified and arrested the suspect and then spent countless hours searching for the missing property. Fields again linked the suspect to the crime through cell phone text messages.
After the arrest, he monitored conversations between the suspect and others including a witness. The suspect threatened the witness and tried to convince the witness to lie to get him out of trouble. After those efforts failed, the suspect was arrested for tampering with a witness. The infuriated suspect then contacted friends and directed them to go to the witness's house to hurt or kill the witness to keep the person quiet. The suspect was again arrested for this crime. While the property was not recovered, Fields was able to clear the crime and take a dangerous offender off the streets.
Nominators provided a third example of Fields work from April when he investigated a case of embezzlement. The reported crime was initially limited to just one incident, but Fields work uncovered a different crime - an employee of a cleaning company was stealing expensive jewelry while he cleaned homes. After conducting hundreds of interviews, recovering property and contacting clients who were unaware of their missing property, Fields revealed the scope of this crime spree. To date, he has identified at least 12 victims with a combined loss of more than $60,000. Much of the jewelry was pawned locally, and Fields has been able to recover much of it.
Sergeant Miller wrote, "This was a theft ring that went on for months, and if not for Investigator Fields' diligent efforts, many more people would have found themselves victims."
Miller added that Fields conducted the investigations while still meeting his daily job requirements as a criminal investigator. He wrote, "His efforts are greatly appreciated by his coworkers, but more importantly, the citizens of the city can rest assured that if they find themselves as an unfortunate victim, people like Investigator Fields are dedicated to servicing their needs."
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are 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: hr) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Human Resources Department, which oversees the awards program. All nominations are considered 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 $50 gift certificate, a day off with pay and a plaque. All monthly winners and nominees are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $250 gift certificate, two days off with pay and a plaque.