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SEARCH to Honor Longtime Florida Member Donna Uzzell with 2018 Hawkins Award


Donna Uzzell

Ms. Donna Uzzell—who has represented Florida on the SEARCH Membership Group for more than two decades, and who is widely known for her ceaseless advocacy to protect vulnerable populations and support national justice programs —will receive SEARCH’s highest practitioner honor for 2018: The O.J. Hawkins Award.

Ms. Uzzell is Special Agent in Charge, Statewide Investigative Services, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The SEARCH Board of Directors selected her for the honor at their January meeting, held in conjunction with the 2018 Winter Membership Group Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.

The O.J. Hawkins Award for Innovative Leadership and Outstanding Contributions in Criminal Justice Information Systems, Policy and Statistics in the United States is an annual honor SEARCH bestows to recognize national leadership that improves the criminal justice community’s ability to develop and use criminal justice information.  The award―named for SEARCH’s founder and first Chairman―is the only nationally recognized honor for leadership in the field of criminal justice information management.

SEARCH has handed out the award since 1985, with past recipients including U.S. attorneys general, members of Congress, FBI officials, and justice practitioners at the national and state levels.

“The entire SEARCH Membership and Staff share my sentiments: that it is enormously gratifying the 2018 Hawkins Award will recognize and honor Donna’s fearless leadership, passionate devotion to duty, and relentless pursuit of programs and policies that have measurably improved our justice and public safety systems nationwide,” said SEARCH Chair Bradley D. Truitt, Director of Information Systems, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Ms. Donna Uzzell (second from left) participated in a March 2014 briefing SEARCH held for Congressional staff on Capitol Hill. As a SEARCH Member, Ms. Uzzell brought her real-life operational experience and expertise as a state-level manager of a criminal history repository to share with Senate and House staff, who learned about background screening processes for job applicants and volunteers.

Contributions, Leadership Cited

The Board selected Ms. Uzzell  in recognition of her outstanding contributions and leadership in establishing and supporting critical justice information systems, policies, and information sharing capabilities throughout the nation.  Specifically, these include:

  • Her work for 13 years with the Tallahassee Police Department and her 8 years of service as an elected Leon County School Board Member, which contributed to her understanding and commitment to child safety issues;
  • Her active support and leadership in Florida, with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, and on several Committees and Task Forces of the FBI CJIS Advisory Policy Board (APB), which has significantly advanced national programs—such as the National Sex Offender Registry, the National Data Exchange System (N-DEx), and the NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP)—and vastly improved justice information sharing nationwide;
  • Her leadership of the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council, which helped secure ratification by 26 of 31 signatory states and 14 nonparty states/territories, and demonstrated her ceaseless advocacy to protect vulnerable populations, including the elderly, the disabled, and our nation’s children;
  • Her commitment and leadership in serving as a Member of SEARCH since 1997, several terms on the Board of Directors, and her contributions as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee, which provided a strategic foundation and guidance for the organization.

In 2005, Ms. Uzzell was given SEARCH’s top Membership honor, the Gary R. Cooper Award for Meritorious Service, in recognition of her outstanding work on behalf of SEARCH and criminal justice information service

Singular Nomination

Ms. Uzzell was nominated for the Hawkins Award by an unprecedented contingent of six prior Hawkins Award recipients:

  • Owen M. Greenspan, Director of Law and Policy (ret.), SEARCH (2016)
  • Thomas E. Bush III, Assistant Director (ret.), Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) (2010)
  • David Gavin, Assistant Chief (ret.), Administrative Division, Texas Department of Public Safety (2011)
  • Ronald P. Hawley, former Executive Director, SEARCH (2013)
  • David R. Loesch, Assistant Director (former), CJIS Division, FBI (2002)
  • Gerard Ramker, Deputy Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice (2012)

SEARCH will present the Hawkins Award at its 2018 Annual Membership Meeting, which takes place July 24–26, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Ms. Uzzell will be feted at an awards ceremony the evening of July 24.

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Past recipients of O.J. Hawkins Award

(titles listed were at the time of the award)