During nights and weekends, Zel Windsor cheers at her children's baseball games or gymnastic meets alongside her husband. But during the day, she helps catch bad guys.
Windsor, 45, won the award for Coordinator of the Year on May 23 at the 31st Annual Southeastern Crime Stoppers Association Training Conference in Estero, Fla. Windsor is only the second Prince George's County Crime Solvers Coordinator to ever win the award.
"It was overwhelming," Windsor said. "To be selected from that pool, it was shocking."
The Southeast division of Crime Stoppers includes Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and D.C.
Windsor has served with the Prince George's County Police Department for 26 years. For the last 13, she has worked with the tip line and Crime Solvers. She spent the last five years as coordinator.
"It's a program that benefits everyone," she said. "It makes the community safer."
Windsor said she always knew she wanted to be involved with law enforcement but, at the age of 19, was ineligible to become an officer. She joined as a civilian, and when she turned 21, the age requirement to join the police department, she decided against joining the force.
"By that time, I was doing something I liked, and the involvement that I had in law enforcement was enough for what I wanted to do," Windsor said.
Windsor recently assisted in finding a criminal wanted in North Carolina. But she said her biggest accomplishment was helping to capture the East Coast Rapist last year. The initial tip came to Windsor's department on a Monday, and it only took until the end of the week to find him.
"I guess it was shocking because of all the jurisdictions that were involved in that process, we were the ones that got the information," she said. "It closed a lot of cases for a lot of people."
The county's Crime Solvers is civilian-run and receives tips from members of the community. It then passes along that information to the right channels, whether to police officers or detectives. The tip line received more than 2,000 calls last year, more than 200 web tips, and more than 33 arrests were made.
"It's a program that works," Windsor said.