Officers and community members recognized for service

CHAMPAIGN – Officer Jason Bradley is being honored as the University of Illinois Police Department’s officer of the year for his persistence in making the campus community a safer place.

Bradley was nominated and selected by a committee of his peers as the Ralph F. Hamlin Officer of the Year. In addition to earning the department’s top individual award, he also earned three merit awards for specific incidents in which he was involved during the past year.

On June 14, 2014, the driver of a vehicle Bradley had stopped for speeding fled on foot. Not only did Bradley and a backing officer, Kaleb Schroeder, catch the driver in the foot pursuit, but also they recovered a loaded, stolen gun from his vehicle. Cocaine was found in the vehicle, too. Both officers earned merit awards.

“The rapid decision making of these officers and their foot speed was instrumental in the apprehension of a criminal involved in a gun crime,” said U. of I. Police Capt. Matt Myrick.

In another incident on Feb. 11, Bradley and officers Michelle Ortiz and James Scheel found another loaded gun in a vehicle police had stopped for not having a license plate. They also discovered one of the passengers in the vehicle had an arrest warrant. All three officers earned merit awards.

“The officers worked well together with clear communication and excellent teamwork,” Myrick said.

On Feb. 22, Bradley along with officers Justin Age, Grant Briggs, Doug Beckman, Chris Elston, Chris Hawk and Sgt. Aaron Landers, coordinated to arrest five Danville, Illinois, men who were involved in attacking a U. of I. student minutes prior. Elston found and stopped a vehicle based on a limited description provided by the victim. Officers were able to identify the suspects and found a loaded handgun which was being transported illegally.

All of the officers involved received merit awards.

“The officers used teamwork and supported each other, resulting in the arrest of five subjects for various felonies,” Myrick said.

Bradley was gracious in accepting the officer of the year award, and said officers’ families deserve a lot of recognition.

“The biggest thanks goes to the families,” Bradley said. “They lend their loved ones to us to keep the community safe.”

A number of Division of Public Safety employees earned awards, including Landers and officers Rick Bell and Ben Wood, who earned a life-saving award for their intervention in an attempted suicide at a local hotel in September.

Telecommunicator Kenny Costa earned the division’s civilian employee of the year award. His nominators said he has a great work ethic, is constantly asking officers what he can do for them and “he sets the example of how public safety employees should provide a high level of service to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign community.”

U. of I. students Juan Acuna, Emily Hartung and Spencer Witowski earned citizen commendations for aiding a fellow student who collapsed near a university residence hall. They called 911 and began CPR. Officers said the on-scene care kept the student alive, as he had almost no pulse and limited breathing. That student is still enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Even canine officer Quinty earned a commendation along with his human partner, Officer Doug Beckman. Beckman and Quinty were utilized by UIPD and other agencies more than 100 times during 2014 for vehicle sweeps, article searches and tracking. They located heroin, cocaine and MDMA, among other controlled substances on many occasions. They also located discarded weapons and other illegal items from fleeing felons.

During 2014, Beckman and Quinty discovered four handguns, including one which was stolen. In one incident, they also located a hat and mask near the gun, leading officers to believe the two stopped an armed robbery before it could take place.

U. of I. Police Chief Jeff Christensen said it is the professionalism and extreme passion of the officers that have helped the department earn respect and gratitude of the community.

More photos of the event are available on the University of Illinois Police Facebook page.

Here’s the full list of awardees:

Service Recognition Awards

Five years: Krissie Garcia, Darren Lewis, Benny Mingo.

10 years: Matt Ballinger, Ed Kavanaugh, Joe McCullough.

20 years: Riccardo Bell, Joan Fiesta, Jeff McCracken.

25 years: Tony Brown, Bruce Rolando.

30 years: Cindy Creighton.

Firearms Award

Tim Harper

Excellence in Fitness

Justin Age, Robert Benoit, Jason Bradley, Grant Briggs, John Brown, Tony Brown, James Carter, Elma Herrera, Robert Murphy, Michelle Ortiz, Nate Park, Laura Tison

Educational Achievement Award

Christopher Elston, Kyle Krickovich, Ryan Lepp, Robert Murphy

Life-Saving Award

Rick Bell, Aaron Landers, Ben Wood

Valor Award

Doug Beckman, Nate Park


Ryan Lepp (2), Grant Briggs, Rachael Ahart, Jorge Garcia, Krissie Garcia, Bruce Rolando, John Wright, Doug Beckman, Quinty

Merit Awards

Jason Bradley (3), Kaleb Schroeder (2), Jerry Sandage, Eric Stiverson, Laura Tison, Matt Melvin, Justin Age (2), Robert Benoit, Michelle Ortiz (4), James Scheel (4), Chuck Hoskins (2), Alex Howard, Alisha Funkhouser-Walker, Grant Briggs (2), Doug Beckman, Christopher Elston, Chris Hawk, Aaron Landers, Adam Thompson, Kenny Costa

Citizen Commendations

Juan Acuna, Emily Hartung, Spencer Witowski, Rubab Bhalla, Allison Rhoden, Jaylynn Maxey

Carol Bailey Civilian Employee of the Year

Kenny Costa

Director of Public Safety Recognition Award

Beth Visel

Campus Emergency Planning Recognition Award

Jamie Redmond

Lorraine “Cathy” Acevedo Award

Dr. Gioconda Guerra Perez

Student Patrol Officer of the Year

Jacob Fleener

Security Officer of the Year

Richard Endsley

Ralph F. Hamlin Officer of the Year

Jason Bradley