2017 Officer of the Year: Detective Debra Titkanich
In 2017 Detective Titkanich’s efforts yielded more than 100 years of combines prison and probation for the cases she worked during the year. This includes the 70-year prison sentence for Dennis Aviles who was convicted and sentenced for the 2014 murder of his girlfriend, Tahnika Duppins. Her work with the Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and locally, yielded several arrests, convictions and sentences totaling nearly 20-years in prison followed by probation and registered sex offender status for life. In the first case, Judge David Dugan sentenced Scott Walker, (DOB 03/13/1974) to 10 years prison. Walker was arrested in October 2016 after making contact online with a person whom he believed was a 14-year-old girl. He arranged to meet the girl at an undisclosed location in Cocoa in order to have sex. Officers intervened and arrested him. Walker will be a registered sex offender upon his release from prison. In another case, Judge Nancy Maloney sentenced Miguel Rivera, (DOB 02/06/1973) to 18 months in prison for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child. Rivera was arrested in May of 2016. Once he is released from prison he will serve 13 more years of sex offender probation. Steven Bernard was also sentenced in 2017, to 7-years in prison for his attempts to lure a child for sex. Steven Bernhard, (DOB 03/11/1959), entered a plea to one count of unlawful travel to meet a minor for sex and was adjudicated guilty on July 19th. As a result of his conviction, he will be a registered sex offender. He will also be required to serve 8 years of sex offender probation upon completion of his prison sentence. Her work during Operation “Cupid’s Arrow” with the task force yielded additional 10 year prison sentences for at least one other suspect she arrested for using a computer in an attempt to lure a child for sex. Michael A. Chmielewski, 38, of Tallahassee, a former State of Florida legislative staffer, was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison and remanded into custody after being convicted on September 29, 2017, of attempted enticement of a minor. The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Detective Titkanich’s work in 2017 continues to produce the potential for lengthy prison sentences for those she arrested in 2017. She undoubtedly prevented countless numbers of young girls from becoming victims of these sexual predators. For these reasons Detective Debra Titkanich is awarded the Cocoa Police Department’s 2017 Officer of the Year!