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Virginia Sheriffs’ Association
The Voice of Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association (VSA) congratulates the 2024 recipients of the Deputy Sheriff of the Year, Dispatcher of the Year, and Valor Awards. It is a privilege for VSA to recognize the meritorious contributions of Virginia’s professional deputy sheriffs and dispatchers. While the achievements of all this year’s nominees were honorable, the committee selected the following deputies for going above and beyond the call of duty.

2024 Deputy Sheriff of the Year Award

Detective Shannon Almborg of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is the recipient of the Deputy Sheriff of the Year Award. A member of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office since 2013, Detective Almborg is a Defensive Tactics Instructor, a member of the Crisis Negotiations Team, and a co-founder of RISE, a mentorship program for women in law enforcement. Detective Almborg has emerged as a cornerstone in advancing cryptocurrency investigations within the Financial and Cybercrimes Unit and has a position on the FBI Cyber Task Force. She has successfully traced over five million stolen crypto funds and generated countless leads. Detective Almborg pursues and has obtained numerous certifications in cryptocurrency investigations. Her unwavering dedication, initiative, and outstanding contributions to mentorship, defensive tactics instruction, and financial and cybercrime investigation make her truly deserving of the prestigious VSA Deputy of the Year Award.

2024 Dispatcher of the Year Award

Dispatch Supervisor Tammy Witt from the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) is the recipient of the Dispatcher of the Year Award. Tammy has transformed the GCSO emergency dispatch services by establishing a promotional process and providing meticulous attention to the training and preparation of supervisors. As well, in 2024 she conceived, created and launched the Communications Officer Academy program for the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office. Tammy actively engages with the community and builds positive relationships within the community, highlighting her unwavering dedication to public service. Tammy’s extraordinary leadership, dedication to professional development, and unwavering commitment to community safety make her a truly exceptional winner of the distinguished VSA Dispatcher of the Year Award.

2024 Valor Awards

Deputy Amanda Mele with the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office was returning home after her shift when she noticed something burning in the woods. She discovered a burning vehicle that had crashed and overturned. Deputy Mele saved the first disoriented passenger and then returned to remove the second unresponsive passenger from the burning vehicle while live downed powerlines were a few feet away.

Deputy Chastity Toretta and Deputy Ryan Carreira of the City of Norfolk Sheriff’s Office were working a community assignment alongside the Norfolk Police Department due to a spike in crime in downtown Norfolk. As they patrolled in an unmarked unit, they heard several gunshots. They moved toward the gunshots to investigate and were alerted by several people hiding behind a car exclaiming, “He’s got a gun! Over there, behind the wall!” Deputy Carreira quickly advanced to the far side of the wall and was able to see the suspect hiding in a bush with a gun in his hand. Deputy Carreira challenged the individual with his gun drawn and demanded the suspect drop his weapon. Initially moving to comply, the suspect then took his gun and ran and hid behind a parked car. Deputy Toretta joined Deputy Carreira and the two deputies advanced toward the suspect ordering him to drop his weapon and get on the ground. While additional officers had guns drawn at the suspect, Deputy Carreira apprehended the suspect and handcuffed him, and Deputy Toretta secured the suspect’s firearm.

Deputy Brian Thomas with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office saved a man’s life who had fallen through the ice of Lake St. Clair and had only his head visible above the water. With outdoor temperatures hovering at 20 degrees, Deputy Thomas located a kayak and using his arms as oars, maneuvered across the ice to the victim. Deputy Thomas had the victim grab hold of the kayak as the kayak and victim were pulled to shore.

Deputy Bryan Sparks of Hanover County Sheriff’s Office responded solo to a call for service involving a domestic conflict with a suicidal individual carrying a knife. Deputy Sparks attempted to de-escalate the situation as the armed individual approached. After being tased, the suspect pulled the taser probe out of his torso and continued to approach, and asked Deputy Sparks if he wanted to die. The suspect then began to run at Deputy Sparks who ultimately shot the advancing suspect two times. Having subdued the threat, Deputy Sparks began to render aid and take the suspect into custody.

Sergeant Michael Panos from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office pursued and engaged a man driving while brandishing a rifle. The individual began shooting at passing vehicles and ultimately fired in an occupied vehicle that had stopped behind him, injuring the innocent driver attempting to flee on foot. Sgt. Panos engaged the individual with his patrol rifle ending the threat by hitting the active shooter. The shooter concealed himself inside his vehicle until he was apprehended by the SWAT team. The shooter died from his injuries.

The 2024 VSA Awards Ceremony will be held during the VSA Annual Conference, scheduled for September 24-26, 2024, at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Marriott.