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WDOC Salutes Exemplary Employees
By Wyoming Department of Corrections
Published: 05/21/2018

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Cheyenne – Wyoming Department of Corrections Director Bob Lampert has announced the Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC) Employee and Officer of the Year.

Penny Martinez, a Probation and Parole Agent in Douglas, has been selected as the WDOC Employee of the Year. Lieutenant Christopher Thompson, from the Wyoming State Penitentiary (WSP), has been selected as the WDOC Officer of the Year.

Each year a total of 13 WDOC staff are selected as Exemplary Employees: an Officer of the Year and Employee of the Year from each Wyoming’s five prisons, two Employees of the Year from the Field Services Division and one Employee of the Year from the Department’s Central Office. From this group two are selected as the Employee and Officer of the Year for the overall Agency. An Outstanding “Wellness Champion” and a Trainer of the Year are also recognized as Exemplary Employees.

In addition to Martinez and Thompson, this year’s WDOC Exemplary Employees are
  • Steve Brown and Officer Shane Kaplon from the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton;
  • Drew Aldridge and Officer Suzanne Frazier from the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington;
  • Gabrielle Juel from the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins;
  • Crystal Zerbe and Lieutenant Benjamin Sanders from the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk;
  • Amy Walton and Officer Javier Lopez from the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp in Newcastle;
  • Carl Voigtsberger from the WDOC Central Office in Cheyenne;
  • Katherine Baxter, a Probation and Parole Agent in Riverton;
  • Michael Ernst (Outstanding Wellness Champion), a support staff member from the Laramie Probation and Parole Office; and
  • Officer Laura Leetch (Trainer of the Year) from the Wyoming Women’s Center.
WDOC’s Exemplary Employees were acknowledged for their accomplishments at a luncheon in Cheyenne on May 9, 2018 as part of Wyoming Correctional Professionals Week. Wyoming Governor Matt Mead attended the luncheon as the guest speaker. He thanked the employees and their families for their hard work and commitment, and noted that the WDOC is an extremely well rounded Department.

Director Lampert said it is always an extremely difficult task determining the Officer of the Year and Employee of the Year for the entire agency because there are many high caliber staff worthy of consideration. But Lampert noted that Martinez and Thompson stood out because of how much they care about their fellow employees, their involvement in their respective communities, and their willingness to go above and beyond in supporting the mission of the Department.

Agent Penny Martinez has been a solid leader in the Douglas Field Office for nearly 30 years. She’s handled the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) caseload for many years and supervises that high risk population admirably and with great dedication. She is also the Team Leader of the Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) for the Department. Her responsibilities in this position include planning and organizing training for the CNT, as well as planning basic and advanced training classes that are attended by WDOC staff and others from around the state and country.

Agent Martinez regularly goes over and above for current and former clients. This past year a former client came into the Douglas Field Office and asked to meet with Agent Martinez. The individual, who had not been under community supervision for well over a decade, was in crisis, using methamphetamine and needed help. He came to Agent Martinez because he felt she was someone he could trust. Agent Martinez went out of her way to contact a treatment facility, help the individual get the necessary documents and tests needed to enter treatment, and provided moral support. While they waited for his ride, Agent Martinez made sure he had a hot meal, as the client hadn’t eaten since the previous day. This is not an isolated incident. Clients both present and past often reach out to Agent Martinez, as she has built a foundation of respect and caring with her clients.

Agent Martinez constantly seeks out learning opportunities and teachable moments. She provides vast knowledge and experience to the members of the CNT and is very approachable and willing to provide guidance to fellow staff seeking advice.

Agent Martinez works closely with law enforcement and is well respected by that community. She keeps abreast of current trends and reads books and articles regarding corrections, drug trends, and criminality. In the past year she took the time to complete the online training for Advocates for Victims.

Agent Martinez has lived in Douglas for nearly 30 years and is well-known and respected in the community. She has two Bachelor’s Degrees from Chadron State in Criminal Justice and Sociology.

Lieutenant Christopher Thompson has worked at WSP since January 2009. His impact on the agency was immediate. In 2010 he became a member of the Crisis Negotiation Team. A promotion to Corporal in 2011 was quickly followed by a promotion to Sergeant in 2012. His training, education and experience earned him promotion to Lieutenant in 2018 and assignment to Facility Investigator.

Lt. Thompson is highly respected and appreciated by his peers and is a good example of what a uniformed staff member should be. It is clearly evident to his colleagues and superiors that he has a passion for Corrections and takes pride in doing his job. He has a willingness to take on any assignment and has proven he can handle any task whether it is working with facility construction, maintaining security, or any other responsibility.

Lt. Thompson exudes a sense of respect and dignity for others and can always be found with a smile on his face. Individuals working with him take note of his impeccable professional and personal reputation. His superior performance is based on his high ethical standards, principles, and a solid moral foundation. He demands no less from his team.

WSP staff have come to rely on Lt. Thompson’s insight, unique set of skills and upward leadership style. He has supervised all units and a majority of staff at WSP. He is known for his cheerful positive attitude and natural coaching ability.

According to his superiors, Lt. Thompson has always led by example, from the front, and given his staff and supervisors 100 percent. Due to his integrity, selflessness and tremendous work ethic, he is considered one of the most respected leaders at the Penitentiary.

Lt. Thompson is deeply involved with his community. He coaches youth wrestling in the community of Baggs and is developing a similar program in Rawlins. His spare time is often spent helping family with their ranch operations. Hailing from Michigan, he holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education, History and Political Science.

WDOC congratulates Agent Martinez, Lt. Thompson and all Exemplary Employees for 2017. They are considered the “best of the best” among the Department’s approximately 1,200 employees. “Our staff is our most important resource,” said Director Lampert. “I value each and every one of them and thank them for the service they provide to the State of Wyoming.”


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