Thursday, May 4

Illinois honors Illinois State Police Officer, Telecommunicator and Forensic Scientist of the Year          Send a link to a friend

[MAY 4, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois State Police Officer, Telecommunicator and Forensic Scientist of the Year award winners were announced Wednesday by Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent, on behalf of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. During this year's annual awards ceremony in Springfield, trooper David Graham of District 5, Joliet, was named Officer of the Year; Ms. Candis Thuringer of District 5, Joliet, was named Telecommunicator of the Year; and George J. Dabdoub of the Joliet Forensic Science Laboratory was presented with the Forensic Scientist of the Year Award.

"Every day, men and women in law enforcement put their own safety and well-being on the line to keep the rest of us safe," Blagojevich said. "These awards are a token of our sincere appreciation for their commitment and courage."

Officer of the Year recipient David Graham's dedication and commitment to highway safety in District 5 during 2005 were exemplary. During that time, Graham wrote more than 1,100 citations and written warnings in an effort to reduce crashes and fatalities, increase occupant restraint use, and place unsafe motor carrier drivers out of service. He was also instrumental in curbing underage drinking in the area by working with local police to develop intelligence information that resulted in numerous arrests. Graham has consistently shown a high level of commitment by striving to achieve department goals and objectives.

Illinois State Police Telecommunicator of the Year Candis Thuringer, a 26-year veteran, still exhibits the same enthusiasm and dedication to her job today as she did when she was a telecommunicator trainee. Her experience helps her to maintain a calm, professional demeanor even during the most stressful of situations. This was clearly exemplified during a pursuit in which speeds often reached more than 100 miles an hour. Realizing the pursuit was traveling in the direction of a construction crew working in the area, she notified them of the pursuit and advised them to take safety precautions. In addition to her telecommunication responsibilities, Thuringer routinely volunteers to take on additional duties. Her work ethic is exemplary.

Forensic Scientist of the Year George J. Dabdoub has dedicated his life to the continued excellence of the forensic science services offered by the Illinois State Police. In addition to carrying full casework responsibilities, Dabdoub has served as the statewide training coordinator for the Trace Chemistry Section, worked as the quality review coordinator, been a liaison to the Joliet Police and Fire departments through the Combined Arson Task Force Squad, repaired scientific instruments, volunteered on laboratory committees, and routinely instructed police officers and firefighters how to properly package evidence and how evidence is analyzed. His experience and professional have been paramount in the resolution of several high-profile cases involving criminal activity.

"We're are fortunate today to recognize these individuals, both ISP employees and those outside of the Illinois State Police, who stepped up to help those in need," said Trent, the police director. "They unselfishly and, oftentimes, without regard for their own safety reached out to help others."

Awards presented to Illinois State Police personnel during the ceremony include the following:

  • District 5 troopers Brent G. Nay and Brad A. Sprague were awarded the department's Lifesaving Medal for administering CPR to a subject who had been ejected from his vehicle on Dec. 23, 2004. Upon their arrival at the crash site, the troopers were able to relieve a civilian who had been administering CPR to the unresponsive man. The officers continued resuscitation efforts until the subject was transported to the hospital. The victim later succumbed to his injuries.

  • On Feb. 11, 2005, District 10 troopers Stephen R. Coady and Ryan K. Fuoss were on patrol when they observed a vehicle traveling north in the southbound lanes of a divided highway. After they stopped the vehicle and approached the suspected DUI driver, he drove away from the scene and continued north in the southbound lanes, where he struck a delivery truck head-on, trapping him inside his vehicle. As the troopers tried to extricate the driver from the wrecked vehicle, it erupted into flames. After trying to douse the flames with fire extinguishers, which failed, the officers made another effort to extricate the victim, despite the intense heat, smoke and flames. The troopers were finally able to free the driver and remove him to a safe location. Troopers Coady and Fuoss were awarded the department's Medal of Honor for their lifesaving efforts.

  • District 7 officers Sgt. William E. Francis, trooper Curt A. Dykstra and trooper Jason W. Wilson were awarded the department's Lifesaving Medal for locating and providing emergency medical treatment to a driver who drove off into a cornfield. On March 23, 2005, the victim had been traveling with his two grandchildren from Iowa City to Waterloo, Iowa, when he became lost and left the roadway. The three occupants exited the vehicle and began walking to get help, when the grandfather collapsed onto the snowy ground. The grandchildren were able to continue back to the road and flagged down a motorist who was able to notify authorities. The officers were able to provide needed medical attention to the victim until an ambulance arrived.

  • District 13 troopers Steven T. Bundy, John R. Gossett and Jimmy G. Huls were awarded the Lifesaving Medal for performing CPR on a passenger of a vehicle. On May 10, 2005, Huls observed a vehicle pull into a truck weight-scale parking lot and an excited female exit the car yelling that her mother had stopped breathing. While Huls was retrieving emergency medical equipment from his squad, Bundy called 911 and Gossett assessed the victim, who was unresponsive and not breathing. The troopers started performing CPR until the woman started breathing, but then she went into cardiac arrest a second time. Again, the officers began performing CPR until she started breathing on her own. After the ambulance service arrived, the victim went into cardiac arrest a third time and did not survive.

  • District 14 trooper Terry A. Woods received the Lifesaving Medal for providing aid to a choking victim on May 17, 2005. While off duty and eating lunch with his family, trooper Woods heard a female choking and immediately began delivering two abdominal thrusts, dislodging the obstruction, allowing the victim to began to breathing normally again.

  • On May 5, 2005, special agent John J. Nagel, who was off duty, recovering at home from outpatient surgery, heard the sound of a car crash and was the first to arrive at the scene. Upon his arrival he noticed several critically injured subjects in a burning vehicle. After calling for emergency assistance, he noticed two of the occupants had suffered tremendous injuries and were not conscious, while the third occupant was alive but trapped inside. With assistance from local citizens, the two men were extricated, while the third person had to be extricated using the "jaws of life." Nagle was awarded the department's Medal of Honor for his attempts to extricate the victims.

  • District 22 trooper Charles E. Bonifield was awarded the department's Lifesaving Medal for resuscitating a victim who had overdosed on cocaine on March 6, 2005.

  • Melissa L. Haas of Region 1 was awarded the department's Achievement Medal for the development, preparation, submission and maintenance of the three Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority grants that were used for the Electronic Recording of Homicide Interrogations Project. The project was the result of the Electronic Recording of Homicide Interrogations Act, signed by the governor in 2003, which addressed intense scrutiny of Illinois' capital punishment system.

[to top of second column]

  • District 13 officers Lt. Thomas J. Stehley and Master Sgt. Barry E. Stricklin were awarded the department's Lifesaving Medal for their efforts on Sept. 2, 2005, when they prevented a subject from jumping off an overpass. The officers were able to talk to the subject while getting close enough to pull him off the guardrail and to safety.

  • District 11 Master Sgt. Roger W. Hayes was awarded the department's Medal of Honor for apprehending an armed, suicidal subject on July 23, 2005. After responding to a report of a man with a gun, Hayes was able to talk to the subject and subsequently rush him and take the 20-gauge shotgun.

  • District 22 Sgt. Nathan A. Eaton and trooper Greg A. Kilduff were awarded the department's Medal of Honor for subduing an armed subject at the scene of a domestic dispute on Aug. 18, 2005. After arriving at the scene, Eaton located an intoxicated male suspect, who stated he intended to commit suicide and, unknown to the officer, was in possession of two concealed handguns. After negotiating with the suspect, officers were able to convince him to relinquish one of the handguns. The suspect then held the other gun under his chin and began walking toward Kilduff, who ordered him numerous times to stop. Kilduff then struck the suspect in the face, grabbing the barrel of the handgun and knocking him to the ground. The suspect fired one round from his pistol while Kilduff was holding the muzzle, causing an abrasion to the officer's hand. District 22 troopers Charles E. Bonifield and Galen L. Cornett were awarded Department Commendations for their actions after responding to the call.

  • Sharon S. White of the Illinois State Police Academy was awarded the department's Lifesaving Medal for performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim. On Oct. 6, 2005, as White ate lunch, another diner began choking. After being alerted to the situation, White was able to dislodge the obstruction from the man's airway and provide medical attention until he was no longer in distress.

  • On April 30, 2005, District Chicago trooper David Keltner was dispatched to the scene of a multiple-vehicle crash on Interstate 94, where he discovered a seriously injured 6-year-old passenger from one of the vehicles. The officer was able to quickly assess the child's injury and begin first aid. Keltner was awarded the department's Lifesaving Medal for his quick and accurate course of first-response treatment to the victim.

  • On Sept. 3, 2005, District 15 trooper Jose Moreno responded to a call of a male subject armed with a knife chasing another man across the southbound and northbound lanes of I-294. After approaching the pursuer, Moreno drew his weapon and ordered him to drop the knife; the man ignored the order. The exhausted victim then stopped running and was tackled to the ground, with his pursuer attempting to stab him. Moreno acted without hesitation and tackled the pursuer, saving the victim's life. Moreno was awarded the department's Medal of Valor for his actions.

  • District 13 Master Sgt. John C. Lewis was awarded the department's Medal of Honor for his actions on Nov. 1, 2005, for apprehending a subject during a home invasion and attempted sexual assault. After responding to the scene of a 911 call with screaming in the background, Lewis observed wet footprints leading to the rear door. He then forcibly entered the screen door and made his way toward the screams, where he located and apprehended the suspect.

  • On Sept. 27, 2005, Illinois State Police Protective Services Unit officers John Day and David Haidi responded to a medical emergency call at the Subway restaurant in the James R. Thompson Center, where an employee had collapsed and was unconscious. The officers began performing CPR until they were able to get a faint breath and pulse. The officers were awarded the department's Lifesaving Medal for resuscitating the heart attack victim.

"It is indeed a pleasure to recognize these officers who, with little regard for their own safety, place themselves in the line of danger to protect and save others," said Trent, the Illinois State Police director. "They didn't take the job to receive awards, and tomorrow they'll return home to work their shift. But today, we honor them for their commitment to duty."

Other Officer of the Year nominees:
Division of Operations

  • Trooper Troy M. Layne, District 1

  • Trooper Chanto K. Iverson, District 2

  • Trooper Steve M. Loan, District Chicago

  • Trooper Jeffrey D. Enderli, District 6

  • Sgt. Floyd M. Blanks, District 7

  • Trooper Brian E. Copple, District 8

  • Trooper Larry Gowdy, District 9

  • Trooper Ryan K. Fuoss, District 10

  • Trooper Bryant K. Johnson, District 11

  • Trooper Ryan D. Shoemaker, District 12

  • Trooper Paul W. Moak, District 13

  • Trooper Jason W. Elswick, District 14

  • Trooper David L. Schneider, District 15

  • Trooper Kent L. Walker, District 16

  • Sgt. James D. Lower, District 17

  • Trooper William J. Langheim, District 18

  • Trooper Christopher J. Campbell, District 19

  • Trooper Stephen M. Schuwerk, District 20

  • Trooper John W. Higginson, District 21

  • Trooper James M. Wright, District 22

  • Special agent William R. Kroncke, Zone 1

  • Special agent Jose Lao, Zone 2

  • Special agent Jamal A. Simington, Zone 3

  • Special agent Aaron B. Fullington, Zone 4

  • Trooper Matt L. McCormick, Zone 5

  • Special agent Karen M. Gordon, Zone 6

  • Trooper Melvin J. Brown, Zone 7

  • Sgt. Richard C. Klimes, Operational Services Command

  • Sgt. Sean Cormier, director's office

  • Sgt. Anthony J. Heindel, Division of Forensic Services

  • Special agent Bradley J. Maurer, Division of Internal Investigation

Other Telecommunicator of the Year nominees:

  • Jennifer Linboom, District 1

  • Robin McCracken, District 2

  • Angela Vandenbergh, District Chicago

  • Richard Fitzpatrick, District 6

  • Brenda Landheer, District 7

  • Melissa Glaub, District 8

  • Christy Cass, Springfield Communications Center

  • Cheryl Miles, District 10

  • Travis House, District 11

  • Jennifer Hartman, District 12

  • Donald Buttitta, District 13

  • Roxilee Vawter, District 14

  • Thomas Andruscavage, District 15

  • Dana Dillard, District 16

  • Kathryn Brewer, District 17

  • Patti Rexing, District 19

  • Sherri Deeder, District 20

  • Nancy Hanson, District 21

  • Sharon Moore, District 22

Other Forensic Scientist of the Year nominees:

  • Debra B. Minton, Morton Forensic Science Laboratory

  • Tina S. Joyce, Forensic Science Center at Chicago

  • Glenn D. Schubert, Southern Illinois Forensic Science Centre

  • Alan D. Teschendorf, Metro-East Laboratory

  • Jennifer M. Wanat, Westchester Forensic Science Laboratory

[Illinois State Police news release]


< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor