SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced Illinois State Police Officer, Telecommunicator, and Forensic Scientist of the Year award winners. During the Department's annual awards ceremony, Trooper Joseph J. Savitch of District 17, LaSalle, was named Officer of the Year and Ms. Jennifer L. Dixon of District 7, Rock Island, was named Telecommunicator of the Year. Mr. Timothy A. Tripp of the Forensic Science Center at Chicago was presented with the first-ever Forensic Scientist of the Year Award.
"The State of Illinois thanks these men and women of the Illinois State Police for their hard work, dedication to the job and for risking their own personal safety to protect others," said Governor Blagojevich.
Since June 2001 when Officer of the Year recipient Trooper Joseph Savitch began his career with the Illinois State Police, he has maintained his commitment to the Department and the standards expressed in the Oath of Office. His personal dedication is consistently reflected in exceeding his strategic performance goals and his high activity levels. On October 4, 2003, Trooper Savitch was involved in a critical incident that threatened the life of a fellow officer. His quick analysis and response to the situation kept his fellow officer alive. Trooper Savitch did not hesitate or question his instincts and displayed exceptional bravery while responding to a life or death situation. His exemplary leadership abilities, high productivity, and outstanding contributions to the Illinois State Police and his community are an example to all officers throughout the Department.
Since joining the Department in June 2000, Telecommunicator of the Year Jennifer Dixon has displayed a positive attitude, interpersonal and problem solving skills, ability to adapt to change, initiative, and dedication to officer and public safety. During 2003, Ms. Dixon was involved in three significant incidents. She was diligent and used her knowledge and the resources available to her to assist the officers. Her calm and professional demeanor during these incidents assisted the officers at the scene and is an example of her everyday performance. Ms. Dixon serves as an excellent representative for all Illinois State Police Telecommunicators.
During the past year, Forensic Scientist of the Year Timothy Tripp has raised the bar for the Forensic Science Center at Chicago. During a time when the laboratory was dealing with multiple vacancies, Mr. Tripp filled many gaps. In addition to his normal duties, he volunteered to be an Acting Group Supervisor for two months. Tim served as the Supply Team Leader, Chemistry Section Advisory Committee (SAC) Chairperson, and as a key member of the Instrument Maintenance Advisory Team. Mr. Tripp's initiative, trouble-shooting skills, and follow-through are apparent to the staff of the laboratory. He is an exceptionally genuine individual, who accepts full responsibility for accomplishing any and all goals under his direction.
Awards presented to ISP personnel during the ceremony include:
- District 12 officers, Sergeant Timothy A. Hodge and Trooper Timothy E. Brown, were awarded the Department’s Medal for Valor for risking great injury to themselves in order to awaken guests at the Lincoln Lodge Motel to alert them of a fire which ultimately destroyed the motel and claimed two lives on August 27, 2003. If not for their heroic efforts, other guests would have perished in the fire.
- The Medal for Valor was awarded to Master Sergeant Marc B. Melvin and Troopers John R. Hartsock, Jimmy G. Huls, and Leslie H. Vancil, all from District 13, DuQuoin, for their efforts during the derailment of a train carrying several tankers of hazardous materials on February 9, 2003, in Tamaroa. The officers responded to the emergency scene and acted quickly to ensure public safety and to contain and control the burning fires of hazardous materials.
- On October 4, 2003, District 17 Trooper Chad Broyles initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle with two male occupants when the driver fled on foot. Broyles pursued the driver, tackling him to the ground when the suspect managed to disarm Trooper Broyles and threatened to kill him. Trooper Joseph Savitch arrived at the scene and observed the struggle, firing his service weapon once, striking the suspect. Trooper Savitch’s quick analysis and response to the situation prevented a potential tragedy for a fellow officer. Both officers were awarded the Medal for Valor.
- Mr. Michael R. Putzek of the Southern Illinois Forensic Science Lab was awarded the Medal for Honor for his actions on December 5, 2003, during a basketball game at the Carbondale Community High School. After witnessing a brief altercation involving two males which resulted in gunfire, Putzek was able to assist the principal by immobilizing the suspect until police arrived. Mr. Putzek took immediate action without regard for himself and with full knowledge that the suspect could still have a weapon.
- District 14 Trooper James T. Adkisson was awarded the Department’s Lifesaving Medal for an incident which occurred on October 31, 2002, while he was off duty. Trooper Adkisson observed an individual run out of a building and kneel down next to a person on the ground who appeared to be having a seizure. After calling 9-1-1, Adkisson determined the victim was in cardiac arrest and began CPR until an ambulance arrived. Due to Trooper Adkisson’s quick actions, the victim was revived.
- Communication Services Bureau Telecommunicator Call Takers Jennifer Griffin and Tammy Moore received the Lifesaving Medal for their efforts in saving the life a suicidal subject. After receiving a call from a St. Paul, Minnesota, resident who had been online in a private chat room with a female subject whom he believed was attempting to commit suicide, Ms Griffin and Ms. Moore were able to determine the subject’s location and contacted the Chicago Police Department. Due to their determination, persistence, and excellent job performance, the subject was able to receive emergency medical assistance.
- On April 12, 2003, District 20 Trooper Sean T. Ramsey arrived on the scene of a serious traffic crash and discovered an unconscious driver who had been partially ejected through the windshield and sustained severe head injuries and whose lips had started turning blue. Trooper Ramsey, with the assistance of another motorist, repositioned the driver to enable him to breathe until emergency medical services arrived. Trooper Ramsey was awarded the ISP’s Lifesaving Medal.
- The Lifesaving Medal was awarded to District 9 Master Sergeant Roger L. Hayden, District 20 Sergeant Robert Bruce Ivers, District 9 Trooper Kenneth D. Thomas III, and District 20 Telecommunications Supervisor Leslie D. Ivers for their efforts on October 9, 2003, to revive a heart attack victim. By using an automated external defibrillator and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the collective efforts of these Illinois State Police employees were able to save the individual.
Other Officer of the Year nominees include: Division of Operations Trooper Troy M. Layne; District 1 Trooper Ryan D. Schramka; District 2 Trooper Michael L. Roache; District Chicago Trooper Chadd A. Brody; District 5 Sergeant Steven D. Simons; District 6 Trooper Jason L. Dickey; District 7 Trooper Daniel E. Williams; District 8 Trooper Joseph R. Kink; District 9 Trooper Theodore J. Rhodes; District 10 Trooper Brian Ropac; District 11 Trooper Todd E. Zeigler; District 12 Trooper Jimmy G. Huls; District 13 Trooper Jason W. Elswick; District 14 Trooper Sergio Ortiz Jr.; District 15 Trooper Eric D. Paulsen; District 16 Trooper Christopher R. Boyett; District 18 Trooper Nathan A. Douglas; District 19 Trooper Brian D. Anderson; District 20 Trooper John G. Dittmer; District 21 Trooper Keith M. Gilley; District 22 Special Agent Gilberto G. Gutierrez; Zone 1 Special Agent Paula R. Vercillo; Zone 2 Trooper Patrick J. Callaghan; Zone 3 Special Agent Joseph A. Spidle; Zone 4 Sergeant Greg S. Lindemulder; Zone 5 Special Agent Dave Fort; Zone 6 Special Agent William “Chad” Brown; Zone 7 Sergeant David W. Carter; Division of Forensic Services Sergeant Stuart Weyforth; Division of Internal Investigation
Other Telecommunicator of the Year nominees include: Connie S. Grenoble; District 1 Dennis C. Lee; District 2 Beth M. DiVirgilio; District Chicago Cheryl A. Patrick; District 5 David C. Melvin; District 6 Peggy J. Cooper; District 8 Sarah B. Rickey; Springfield Communications Center Cheryl A. Miles; District 10 Lisa L. Mojzis; District 11 Tracey L. Schultz; District 12 Yvonne M. Murray; District 13 Betsy L. Williamson; District 14 Ted Kruczek; District 15 Dana M. Dillard; District 16 Pamela Kromm; District 17 Cher N. Thomas; District 19 Tonya B. Main; District 20 Susan H. Ratliff-Thomas; District 21 Sharon L. Moore; District 22
Other Forensic Scientist of the Year nominees include: Paula J. Cardosi; Springfield Forensic Science Laboratory Katherine A. Davis; Joliet Forensic Science Laboratory Thomas E. Gamboe Jr.; Metro-east Forensic Laboratory Patrick J. Powers; Rockford Forensic Science Laboratory