Melbourne Police Department Honors Officers and Employees for Exceptional Service During Annual Awards Event

Officer of the Year Officer Greg Hughes, Employee of the Year Crime Analyst Sheree Payne

Melbourne Police Chief David Gillespie, far left, with, left to right, Employee of the Year Sheree Payne, Officer of the Year Greg Hughes, Communications Officer of the Year LeSean Campbell and Melbourne Mayor Paul Alfrey. (MPD image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The Melbourne Police Department recently held its annual awards ceremony to recognize and celebrate police officers, communications officers, and civilian employees for outstanding accomplishments, dedication, bravery and professionalism. The department also gave special awards to officers and employees who stood out among even these exceptional honorees. The 2022 winners of these prestigious awards include:

Officer of the Year: Officer Greg Hughes

Officer Hughes has been with the Melbourne Police Department for more than 26 years, consistently providing excellent service to the people of Melbourne.

In 2022, he conducted 69 searches, responded to 386 calls for service, responded to back up other officers 512 times, responded to assist other agencies on 34 incidents, and made three K-9 apprehensions. His efforts resulted in the seizure of more than 2 kilograms of various illegal drugs. Additionally, he assisted with numerous K-9 demonstrations throughout the year.

Officer Hughes was awarded the Police Combat Cross and Police Purple Heart for responding to and engaging with an armed subject who was barricaded in a room at a hotel on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. During the incident, he was shot and wounded while attempting to peacefully resolve the barricade. At imminent personal hazard to his life, he had engaged in dialogue with the room’s occupants.

A gunshot was fired through the door from within the room, resulting in a bullet striking Officer Hughes in the chest. He was wearing his department-issued ballistic vest, and the bullet did not penetrate his skin. However, the force of the impact caused him to fall to the ground.

Officer Hughes is well-known for his consistently professional demeanor and for his ability to always remain calm, reasonable, and polite — even in high-risk situations or when dealing with belligerent subjects. He serves as a resource and teacher for new officers and functions as a K-9 instructor facilitating ongoing training for the K-9 team.

Communications Officer of the Year: LeSean Campbell

Campbell is an employee that the Communications Center heavily depends upon. She has served the Melbourne Police Department for more than 20 years. For the past ten years, she has been second in charge on the night shift, where she plays a critical role in helping supervisors during high-volume incidents and seamlessly fills in for supervisors on their days off. She shares her knowledge with her peers and helps whenever requested.

Often called upon to come in early, stay late, or report on her day off, Communications Officer Campbell always brings forth a calm demeanor and is always graciously willing to assist. She is consistently professional and compassionate with all callers and is driven by a sincere desire to help her coworkers and the citizens of Melbourne.

Employee of the Year: Crime Analyst Sheree Payne

Crime Analyst Payne consistently demonstrates passion and attention to detail in her day-to-day responsibilities, often working outside of her normal hours to accomplish tasks. Her exceptional efforts resulted in significant law enforcement accomplishments in 2022, including documenting a new criminal gang responsible for significant violence in our community.

This was the first time a new gang had been documented in Melbourne in close to a decade. She also helped officers quickly locate a vehicle that was involved in a shooting. Officers found a loaded AK-47 and arrested the suspect, who had been associated with the new gang during an attack at Palm Bay High School.

Due to the swift actions of Crime Analyst Payne and police officers, a dangerous firearm was taken off the street, and a gang associate was charged with several felony crimes. Further violence was likely prevented due to their actions.

Also, in 2022, her quick action in cross-referencing evidence from the scene of a hit-and-run crash led to the location of the vehicle involved and the arrest of its driver.

She also helped officers quickly locate a Silver Alert vehicle and safely return a disoriented elderly driver to his family members. She provided key intelligence support for various incident action plans throughout the year. She took the lead on implementing a large investigative database of cellular phone data that has been used to assist with many major cases and to help curb overdoses in the city.

Detective Award of Excellence: Timothy Clifford

Detective Clifford’s work in 2022 has made a real, tangible impact on crime in the City of Melbourne. He consistently deals with the community’s highest-profile and most violent offenders, and his reputation is well-known among them. His efforts in 2022 have been exemplary and demonstrate his dedication to the department’s mission and his commitment to the real reduction of violent crime for the citizens of Melbourne. He knows how and where to place himself at the right place at the right time — and is always willing to do so.

A sworn officer since 2016, Detective Clifford was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division as a member of the Juvenile Unit in 2022 where he was assigned 34 cases, 27 of which he has closed. His significant achievements last year are indicative of someone who is consistently and knowingly placing themselves on the leading edge of whatever mission is at hand.

For example, he located and arrested a dangerous suspect of an armed occupied burglary and saved a girl who was attempting to jump off of the Eau Gallie Causeway.

He played a key role in the cooperative effort to document a new street gang in south Brevard tied to multiple shootings and other violent criminal acts in several jurisdictions. He began by locating and arresting suspected members on outstanding warrants in order to gain criminal intelligence on the group.

He was later temporarily integrated with Brevard County Sheriff’s Office GAMEOVER Task Force to assist with apprehension efforts to arrest the one out of four suspects who had not yet been arrested after an incident at Palm Bay High School during which an MPD officer was struck with a vehicle. He also located and arrested another member who was involved in shootings in Malabar and Cocoa.

In 2022, he also served on the SWAT Team, as a Task Force Officer on the Central Florida Homeland Security Task Force. He also represented the department at CEASEFIRE Task Force Meetings hosted by the State Attorney’s Office and on the Brevard County Public Schools Threat Assessment Boards for several schools.

Field Training Officer Award of Excellence: Baylee Sudman

Field Training Officer Sudman is known for her tireless work and dedication in aiding the Training and Accreditation Units in important areas. She is enthusiastic, intelligent, well-organized and motivated. In 2022, she worked tirelessly to teach and mentor trainees through the assigned phases, ensuring she exposed them to sufficient training opportunities with effective and proper feedback, including additional training when necessary, so they would be prepared to progress through field training to solo patrol.

In 2022, FTO Sudman received a Unit Meritorious Performance Award for her role in responding to an aggravated assault resulting in officers taking gunfire. She helped form a perimeter around the incident location and safely evacuated nearby residents until the suspect was apprehended.

She consistently demonstrates the ability to work extended hours and takes an active role in training. She has achieved General Instructor certification and has attended numerous Advanced Training Courses to improve her abilities and increase the number of topics she is able to teach.

Supervisor Award of Excellence: Sergeant Michael Tatalias

Sergeant Michael Tatalias excelled as a first-line supervisor in 2022. He was instrumental in developing Day Watch Bravo squad into a consistent and reliable representation of the Melbourne Police Department. Under his leadership, the squad consistently yields high levels of self-initiated activity, as well as dependable cohesive work on large-scale incidents.

Sergeant Tatalias has performed admirably under a number of high-stress encounters requiring decisive action and commanding leadership. He was awarded an Exceptional Duty Bar for the apprehension of a known gang member who fired multiple gunshots into a residence. He was awarded another Exceptional Duty Bar for apprehending the armed driver of a vehicle that was involved in an armed robbery and supervising officers from three agencies and multiple internal units to conduct a successful search for a second vehicle and firearm that were involved in the incident.

He was awarded a third Exceptional Duty Bar for his quick actions at the scene of a stabbing that helped save the victim and lead to the arrest of the suspect and recovery of the knife he used in the attack. He also helped arrest several members of a new street gang.

Sergeant Tatalias did all of this under unique circumstances. In May, after the second sergeant on Day Watch Bravo left the department unexpectedly, Sergeant Tatalias helped the officers who filled in the supervisory role, neither of whom had previous experience serving as a supervisor, to perform exceptionally. He also assumed the majority of the administrative work and minimized taking leave to ensure adequate coverage was present. He also encouraged team building in several positive ways, further demonstrating his superb leadership and organizational commitment.

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