The Westminster Chamber of Commerce honored excellence across the city on March 30 at its annual Spirit of Westminster Awards Luncheon.
Among the honorees were Westminster Police Department employees Sgt. Cindy Sweasy, Animal Control Officers Shanyn Behn and Crystal Sheldon, and Property Specialist Kellee Wells, who received plaques presented by Chamber of Commerce members, Westminster Mayor Tri Ta and state legislative representatives.
“It’s a fantastic event that the chamber does every year in conjunction with the city,” said Chamber President James Davidson.
Chamber Director Bill Holman read a short biography to introduce each recipient from the various city departments – including the City Clerk’s Office, Community Development Department, Community Services Department, Finance Department, Police Department and Public Works Department – as well as from Midway City Sanitary District, Orange County Fire Authority and the California Highway Patrol.
“Sgt. Sweasy started her career at the Westminster Police Department in 1998,” said Holman. “She has worked assignments such as patrol, the Westminster Mall substation and in the detective bureau as a forgery/fraud detective. In 2009, she was promoted and became Westminster Police Department’s first female sergeant, where she currently serves as a patrol sergeant assigned to night watch.”
Sweasy has been a field training coordinator for the last seven years, supervising new officers in the Field Training Officer (FTO) Program.
“Under her care and professionalism, the program has turned out numerous new officers and field training officers alike,” Holman said. “The WPD field training program is a vital platform where only the best of the best succeed through the rigorous scrutiny of field training officers. Sgt. Sweasy oversees their progress in the program and monitors their evaluations to ensure they are the best fit for the community and they meet the high expectations of the police training program.”
Sweasy told Behind the Badge that her dad, a retired police sergeant, was the reason she decided to work in law enforcement.
“He was an inspiration,” she said. “I wanted this for a lifetime career and I started at 22.”
She said she would love to see more women enter and promote in law enforcement, and advises young officers to find good mentors to bounce ideas off of regarding their career. She’s had very supportive mentors – both male and female – along the way.
“They just provided encouragement throughout my career,” she said.
Sweasy was honored to receive the Spirit award, but emphasized “it’s a team effort” along with FTO Program training co-coordinator Sgt. Cord Vandergrift.
“It’s not I, it’s we,” she said.
Animal Control Officers Behn and Sheldon were called up jointly for their awards, acknowledging their efforts during the recent transition into expanding Westminster’s Animal Control services to the city of Stanton in 2016.
“For this to occur, there was extensive preparation by numerous individuals,” said Holman. “Both Crystal and Shanyn played an integral role and were instrumental in the success of this transition.”
They conducted extensive research into the county’s laws and policies for Animal Control services, fielded numerous requests from the WPD’s business service manager, worked with the city’s IT bureau to ensure the business management software was customized to their needs, worked with the city attorney to ensure compliance with laws and regulations for both cities, and also reviewed the contract to search for opportunities to benefit both cities.
“While fulfilling these numerous requests, they also had to create new forms to track their workload in both cities, and train a new police aide,” said Holman. “The transition has been a success, mostly due to the efforts of Crystal and Shanyn. The Westminster Police Department has already received numerous positive comments from Stanton elected officials and Stanton community members for the excellent quality service they are receiving from the city of Westminster.”
WPD Property Specialist Wells has been a full-time employee of the agency’s Property Division since 2007 and has worked at WPD for nearly 20 years. Before working at the agency, she was the California Association of Property and Evidence (CAPE) secretary for five years. She currently is a member of the Westminster Police Officers’ Association and also volunteers in several community outreach programs.
“Kellee has been an instrumental leader and mentor to several current and past members who worked in this division,” said Holman. “Kellee has been able to maintain the integrity and professionalism of the Property Division through some tumultuous times. She has endured layoffs, personnel changes, retirements, changes in her schedule and a move to a new police facility, among other things. She has never wavered in maintaining her tenacity and dedication in making the Property Division the most functional, efficient and detailed unit at our agency.”