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Illinois State Police Officer, Telecommunicator & Forensic Scientist of the Year Award Winners

Press Release Date: July 1, 2010    || Archived January 3, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Police Acting Director Jonathon E. Monken today announced Illinois State Police Officer, Telecommunicator, and Forensic Scientist of the Year award winners during the agency’s annual awards ceremony. Officer of the Year is Trooper Jeremy Walk, Ms. Catherine Bencini was announced Telecommunicator of the Year, and Mr. James M. Ercoli was presented with the Forensic Scientist of the Year Award.

“The individuals recognized today take great pride in the job they do each and every day,” said Acting Director Monken. “Their commitment to excellence, professionalism, and heroism are to be commended.”

Trooper Jeremy Walk of District 18 in Litchfield was recognized for his unwavering dedication to the Illinois State Police. He is a top performer and lead Control and Arrest Tactics (CAT) instructor for the district, a responsibility he takes seriously and with great pride. Always looking for innovative ways to improve training, he secured more suitable buildings for CAT and Rapid Response training at no cost to the district. He also searches for training opportunities and officer safety information to benefit ISP and local officers and uses his own time to conduct extra training. This is a testament to his belief that every person who chooses a career in law enforcement should be fit, well trained, and mentally ready to handle the perils of the job. Trooper Walk is also an extraordinary Field Training Officer. Many officers have benefited from his vast knowledge of the law and policy. Through his efforts, he was able to obtain funding from the State’s Attorney Office for interdiction training and immediately put the training into action, resulting in the seizure of a vast amount of contraband cigarettes and cash with a possible connection to terrorist activity.

Trooper Walk is the ultimate team player, always willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of District 18 and the Department. During the first half of 2009, the district experienced a spike in fatality crashes involving alcohol. To combat the trend, a focus was placed on rural roadways and alcohol-related violations. Although he worked the day shift, he adjusted his hours to contribute to the patrol strategy, and even bid on the evening shift to help alleviate the shortage of proficient DUI officers.

Trooper Walk’s work ethic and commitment are apparent in his accomplishments. He was recognized in the district for his achievements in speed and overweight enforcement. He also received the District Challenge Coin for outstanding activity and secured the District “Top Cop Award” for Criminal Arrests and Occupant Restraint. Trooper Walk’s volunteer efforts include Special Olympics, Children’s Miracle Network, the “Brian McMillen Veterans Scholarship 5K Run”, and the “Coats for Kids” Campaign.

Ms. Bencini has provided 15 years of dedicated excellence to the Illinois State Police as a telecommunications professional and provides exceptional customer service to District 13 and the citizens of Illinois. She holds herself to a high set of standards and works diligently to meet all the requirements and deadlines of her position, readily offering her assistance to co-workers, officers, and the community. Others often seek guidance from her due to her extensive knowledge of police communications. Her work ethic exemplifies a devoted and productive employee, honorably conscientious, and loyal to her profession.

She not only takes initiative in the workplace, but gives freely of her personal time as well. She is a strong advocate for improving safety and efficiency and volunteers her time as a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. She also volunteers for other noble callings such as Habitat for Humanity and reading newspapers to the blind.

In spite of her extra activities, she manages to maintain a high level of productivity. Ms. Bencini has received several commendations and is often recognized for her professionalism, competence, and willingness to assist others. Working in the Joliet Laboratory as a Trace Chemistry Analyst, Mr. James Ercoli is an outstanding scientist who works diligently to produce casework of the highest quality. He is routinely one of the top case producers in the state, having completed 167 cases in 2009. Mr. Ercoli is responsible for maintaining the aging instrumentation within the Trace Section and has devoted countless hours to rebuilding and/or repairing complex laboratory instruments and equipment, saving the ISP significant funds that would normally be spent on repair. He consistently contributes to the efficient functioning of the section, and as a senior member of the laboratory, often serves as a mentor and advisor to others. Not only does he perform his own assignments well, he also assists his coworkers and user agencies. Recognizing the laboratory as a service organization, his focus is on providing the highest quality product to the law enforcement community.

Mr. Ercoli is well respected in his laboratory field and volunteers as part-time firefighter, giving him a unique insight into the analytical tasks of the laboratory, as well as enhancing his credibility with user agencies. He has developed and provided numerous outside presentations on forensic arson analysis and evidence packaging that were extremely well received and highly sought after by various fire and law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Ercoli’s dedication to his career is only eclipsed by his profound commitment to his family and his community.

Other presentations made during the ceremony include:

The Medal for Valor is awarded to Illinois State Police personnel who perform an act of exceptional bravery, with an awareness of the possibility that the act could result in great bodily harm or death to themselves. This year’s honorees are:

  • Master Sergeant Brian Clements
  • Master Sergeant Joseph Kollins
  • Sergeant Mark Cameron
  • Sergeant Richard Pisoni
  • Trooper Keith Cox
  • Trooper Brian Dickmann
  • Trooper Matthew Hannan
  • Trooper William Hasty
  • Trooper Lance Hinkle
  • Trooper Brian Holsapple
  • Trooper Steve Kerley
  • Trooper Darren Lindsey
  • Trooper Kyle Rensing
  • Trooper Robert Swift
  • Trooper Charles Tolbert
  • Trooper Brian Wood

The Medal for Honor is awarded to Illinois State Police personnel who perform a heroic act that, by its nature, results in saving a life, preventing a serious crime, or apprehending a person who committed a serious crime. The eligible act, while of a lesser degree than that required for the Medal for Valor, must nevertheless have been accomplished with distinction. This year’s recipients are:

  • Sergeant Bryan Falat
  • Trooper Brian Holsapple
  • Special Agent Michael S. Myers
  • Trooper Kristine Quick

The Achievement Medal is awarded to Illinois State Police personnel who perform an outstanding act, or acts, that results in improved administration or operation, substantial savings in labor or operational costs, greatly enhances the mission of the ISP, or brings great credit to the Department. The act, or acts, must be because of performance beyond the requirements of the normal work assignment. This year’s recipient is:

  • Special Agent Heather Poerio

The Purple Heart Medal is presented to Illinois State Police personnel who, while in the performance of enforcement duties, are seriously injured or killed while encountering deadly force or “other actions” causing serious, life threatening injuries or death. Officers receiving the Purple Heart this year are:

  • Trooper Brian Dickmann
  • Trooper Darren Lindsey

The Lifesaving Medal is awarded to Illinois State Police personnel who perform actions or who apply techniques that result in saving or sustaining a human life. Honorees include:

  • Master Sergeant William McCamant
  • Sergeant Robbie Frakes
  • Sergeant Michael D. Voges
  • Trooper Steve Bundy
  • Trooper Michael Cummings
  • Trooper Glenn Daugherty
  • Trooper James Holliday
  • Trooper David Houseright
  • Trooper Chad Jewett
  • Trooper Danny Leezer
  • Trooper Larry Piotrowski
  • Trooper Bill Quinn
  • Trooper Rick Reed
  • Trooper Pawel Sarat
  • Trooper Kyle Seger
  • Trooper Donald Simmons Jr.
  • Trooper Richard Stephens
  • Trooper Tyrone White
  • Officer Carleton Riley
  • Officer Jesse Harris
  • Truck Weight Inspector Mike Eckols

The Director’s Award of Distinction is presented to any individual, agency, or group outside the Illinois State Police who gave extraordinary support and assistance to accomplish the goals of the Department. They include:

  • Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Albin
  • Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy Ruben Archilla
  • Mr. Leon "Chip" Cormier, Jr.
  • Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Duffy
  • Bloomington Police Officer Jeff Engle
  • Ms. Sarah Grecula
  • Ms. Michelle Hannon
  • Mr. Daniel Hayes
  • U.S. Army Sergeant David L. Hill
  • Mr. Shannon Marlar
  • Ms. Tonya Marlar
  • Mr. Francisco Mejia
  • Bloomington Police Officer Steven Statz
  • U.S. Army Sergeant Joey L. Tibbs
Officers nominated for the ISP Officer of the Year Award must display a combination of the following qualifications and characteristics: outstanding contribution in the area of assignment; valor in the line of duty; exceptional knowledge and ability to complete job functions; overall productivity; civic contributions; and professional appearance and demeanor.

Other Officer of the Year nominees include:

  • Trooper Richard T. Helkey, District 1
  • Trooper Boguslaw H. Kramarz, District 2
  • Trooper Jose A. Alvarez, District Chicago
  • Trooper Christopher J. Wilkes, District 5
  • Trooper Chad C. Dumonceaux, District 6
  • Trooper Jared W. Steen, District 7
  • Trooper Jason E. Springer, District 8
  • Trooper Brice A. Hager, District 9
  • Trooper Christopher E. Owen, District 10
  • Trooper Derek M. Cullen, District 11
  • Trooper John M. Pappas, District 12
  • Trooper Bobby D. Bundren, Jr., District 13
  • Trooper Marc L. Baker, District 14
  • Trooper James F. Knipper, District 15
  • Trooper Brian J. Bottcher, District 16
  • Trooper Michael J. Kasprak, District 17
  • Trooper Timothy W. Luker, District 19
  • Trooper Robert C. Cook, District 20
  • Trooper David L. Verkler, District 21
  • Trooper Mark A. Stram, District 22
  • Special Agent Krista N. Thien, Zone 1
  • Special Agent Sharleen S. Seas, Zone 2
  • Special Agent Jurgita Jankauskaite, Zone 3
  • Sergeant Kelly J. Walter, Zone 4
  • Sergeant Anthony D. Kestner, Zone 5
  • Special Agent Scott W. Boothe, Zone 6
  • Trooper Aaron P. Hoffman, Zone 7
  • Senior Inspector George F. Kuzelka, Riverboat Gaming Command
  • Special Agent Bill G. Jacques, Statewide Investigative Support Command
  • Sergeant Marcus Gipson, DII Northern Command
  • Inspector Thomas W. Merchie, Division of Forensic Services
  • Sergeant Ronald (Eric) Murphy, Division of Administration
Telecommunicators nominated for the ISP Telecommunicator of the Year Award must display a combination of the following qualifications and characteristics: outstanding contribution in the area of assignment; exceptional knowledge and ability to complete job functions; initiative to expand knowledge through attendance in college courses or seminars; civic contributions; and professional appearance and demeanor.

Other Telecommunicator of the Year nominees include:

  • Ms. Connie S. Grenoble, District 1
  • Ms. Robin L. Wood, District 2
  • Mr. Michael D. McDermott, District Chicago
  • Ms. Jill D. Collum, District 5
  • Mr. Scott H. Bork, District 6
  • Ms. Laurie A. DelosReyes, District 7
  • Ms. Melissa Glaub Mullen, District 8
  • Ms. Lindsey E. Becker, Springfield Communications Center
  • Ms. Beth E. Aquino, District 10
  • Ms. Judith C. Feig, District 11
  • Ms. Elizabeth A. Cather, District 12
  • Ms. Becky L. Crabill, District 14
  • Mr. Capers Funnye, District 15
  • Ms. Gail R. Johnson, District 16
  • Mr. Mark E. Morscheiser, District 17
  • Ms. Pamela S. Lanter, District 18
  • Ms. Arleen M. Simmons, District 19
  • Ms. Karla J. Leahr, District 20
  • Ms. Patricia J. LaGesse, District 21
  • Ms. Cynthia A. Clancy, District 22

Nominees for the ISP Forensic Scientist of the Year Award must display a combination of the following qualifications and characteristics: superior performance of an individual regarding casework; superior job performance; actions which exceed every day operations; and extraordinary community service or exceptional community involvement.

Other Forensic Scientist of the Year nominees include:

  • Ms. M. Leanne Gray, Rockford Forensic Science Laboratory
  • Ms. Charity H. Noreuil, Springfield Forensic Science Laboratory
  • Ms. Jennifer A. Poltorak, Westchester Forensic Science Laboratory
  • Mr. Joseph F. Gillono, Forensic Science Center at Chicago
  • Mr. Kenneth C. Knight, Southern Illinois Forensic Science Centre
  • Ms. Denise A. Hanley, Morton Forensic Science Laboratory
  • Mr. Ronald L. Locke, Metro-East Forensic Science Laboratory

Adobe Reader Additional ISP Annual Awards Summaries

For more information contact:
Public Information Office
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TDD: 1-800-255-3323

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