May Sworn Team Member of the Month

Sworn Team Member of the Month

Phillip G. Sarakas
Missouri State Highway Patrol

May Non-Sworn Team Member of the Month

Non-Sworn Team Member of the Month

Cassondra Stevens
Veterans Service Officer
Missouri Veterans Commission

Phillip Sarakas, a Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant assigned to Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, is the DPS Sworn Team Member of the Month for May 2024 for his excellent handling of a critical incident – the pursuit and apprehension of four suspects in a bank robbery that occured in Iowa.

On Nov. 16, 2023, while working in Wayne County, Phillip heard radio traffic concerning a vehicle southbound on U.S. Highway 67 associated with the Iowa bank robbery and whose driver was suspected in a drive-by shooting. He closely monitored southbound traffic and soon recognized a vehicle matching the broadcast description. After verifying the vehicle and registration with Troop E Radio, he followed the vehicle while waiting for other officers to respond before making a traffic stop. When enough officers were in place, Phillip activated his emergency equipment and made a traffic stop. The driver and front seat passenger were taken into custody, but the two other men fled in the vehicle, leading to a lengthy vehicle pursuit that ended in Piedmont, Mo., when the vehicle crashed into a utility pole. The men were taken into custody after a foot pursuit. A large amount of stolen cash was recovered and there were no injuries, in part because of the organized response begun by Phillip.

From the start of this potentially highly dangerous event, Phillip exercised caution and good judgment – waiting until he had adequate backup and until after the pursuit had passed the area of an elementary school before initiating the traffic stop. He also provided up to date, accurate information to Troop E Radio, which allowed other officers to get into position to respond.

Cassondra Stevens, a Veterans Service Officer at the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James, is the DPS Non-Sworn Team Member of the Month for May 2024 for her tremendous dedication and commitment to assisting veterans, particularly in a recent benefit appeal to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cassondra assisted a veteran who was extremely distressed after being notified by the VA that he owed more than $173,000 because over overpayments by the VA pension program. Cassondra spent many hours on the case and found that the veteran had extremely high medical expenses that had not been reimbursed. She filed 15 separate unreimbursed medical expense forms with the VA on behalf of the veteran, one for each year the VA said he had received excessive pension payments. The VA agreed to wipe out the $173,000 it had said the veteran owed, and while his VA pension was reduced going forward, the VA approved a new disability compensation claim which significantly increased the veteran’s benefits.

Cassondra also showed her dedication to veterans at the Honoring Our Heroes Marathon from Salem to Rolla in November 2023. Not only did she participate in the 5K portion of the race, she staffed a veterans information and resources booth before and after the race, assisting more than 50 veterans.

Cassondra consistently goes the extra mile to serve Missouri veterans!

Congratulations to the Team Members of the Month! You have set an outstanding example for your co-workers throughout the Department of Public Safety.


The Missouri Department of Public Safety. Many Missions. One Team.