Meet Esther Seoanes

Esther Seoanes & James Williford on their wedding day
It is so important to me that I provide the best possible care for my patients, to improve their overall health with the goal of restoring them to their pre-acute illness condition. My job is demanding, but restoring patients to their baseline health provides me with great pleasure and fulfillment. I take my inspiration from my late husband, James Williford. I feel blessed to help others, and I believe that is why I was given the gift of my husband. James was an amazingly helpful, caring, and compassionate person. James and I met at a local trauma hospital, where he dedicated 15 years of service. He was known as a man who got things done, who established meaningful rapports with patients as a devoted healthcare servant. He taught me through his selfless actions to help others without expecting anything in return. On June 15, 2012, a driver fleeing the police struck James’s car as he was on his way to deposit a contribution to a healthcare fund for a former co-worker. In the immediate aftermath of his death, I searched for meaning in my changed life and for an understanding of how my husband—a law-abiding citizen—could be killed on his way to the bank. In my search, I discovered PursuitSAFETY and learned that pursuits were an enormous problem and far too common in our country. Prior to the crash, I would watch the Fast and the Furious movies, enjoying the glamorization of pursuits in film and on television, not realizing the horror of the reality. Over the past five years, I have become a different person, one who realizes the grave dangers of pursuits. I have learned that they are shockingly hazardous, killing hundreds of innocent victims. My husband was killed because a man stole a truck from the local mall and then was chased at speeds of up to 100 mph by law enforcement. Many questions filled my mind, the most important being: Was there a better way to apprehend the suspect, one which didn’t involve chasing him through a high-traffic area with numerous pedestrians crossing the streets? It is because of James that I have studied police pursuits and educated myself on the dangers that they involve, learning that, too frequently, police officers and innocent victims are killed in these pursuits. This is why I am here today, talking to you: I don’t want your loved ones to be killed. Our aim at PursuitSAFETY is to decrease the number of innocent victims killed in police pursuits, by bringing awareness and education to law enforcement and to the general public. Through a cultural shift toward a safety paradigm, we can keep citizens safer and protect officers, too. (Esther Seoanes serves as PursuitSAFETY’s executive director. Her post about “Pursuit Policy Types: Restrictive, Discretionary, or Discouraging” will next Thursday, January 18th.)

Meet David Pienta

David Pienta

PursuitSAFETY is fortunate that David agreed to blog for us. He, too, wants to save lives.

David represents many in law enforcement who sign up for this challenging profession to help people in their time of need. He has worked in the criminal justice industry for eleven years as an application developer and has served as a law enforcement officer for five years. He holds two positions, one with a law enforcement/federal government consulting firm in Tallahassee and as an officer for a major university police department. David also served as a Class I Reserve Deputy with the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office. He expanded his knowledge through his involvement with other programs, including the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registration Program (TTSORS), VALOR for Blue, and Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT). An avid sports fan, David enjoys being a sports official (referee). He serves as a volunteer judge for the Leon County Teen Court program but tells stories about his previous work with the leagues from Little League to non-conference D-I. David is a certified Florida CJSTC Instructor and is certified to teach NRA Pistol Safety & Basics of Pistol Shooting, Below 100, SABRE Aerosol Pepper Spray for LEOs, De-escalation Techniques Officer Safety Basics, Anti-Ambush Tactics and Case Studies, and Recognizing and Preventing Complacency. David holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University in Management Information Systems. David graduated from the Florida Public Safety Institute (Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy)