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Back to Archives | Back to January 2009 Contents 

2008 IACP Awards "Part 3"

J. Stannard Baker Award for Highway Safety

The prestigious J. Stannard Baker Award annually recognizes individual lifetime contributions to highway safety. Law enforcement officers of state, county, metropolitan, or municipal agencies, as well as other private- or public-sector representatives, are selected by the IACP Highway Safety Committee for their sustained, continuous, career-spanning, and unusual initiative and creativity in developing and implementing highway safety programs within their agencies or within the communities they serve. The award is presented by the IACP in collaboration with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety.

Leonard R. “Bob” Jacob, Director, Institute of Police Technology and Management (IPTM), Jacksonville, Florida

Mr. Jacob was recognized for the 35 years he has dedicated to promoting virtually every aspect of traffic safety, beginning with the Virginia State Police in 1973 and continuing with IPTM since 1984. His dedication has made the United States a safer place in which to drive because of his unrelenting determination to validate and promote everywhere the professional knowledge and the proper tools to address existing problems.

Staff Sergeant Ian S. Mitchell, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada

Staff Sergeant Mitchell was recognized for implementing, instructing, and promoting traffic safety programs within the province of Saskatchewan during his more than 30 years of service with the RCMP. He has brought his dedication to—and understanding of—the various aspects of traffic safety to bear on all of the problems affecting the safety of those whom he has chosen to serve professionally.

Officer Sean D. McGrath, Crystal Lake, Illinois, Police Department

Officer McGrath was recognized for promoting traffic safety within Crystal Lake, Illinois, and in reducing deaths and injuries, particularly among teenagers, during his 19 years of service.

2009 applications due: May 15, 2009

For more information about the 2009 J. Stannard Baker Award for Highway Safety, visit the awards section on the IACP Web site,, or contact Dick Ashton at the IACP, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2357; by phone at 1-800-THE-IACP, extension 276; or via e-mail at

Vehicle Theft Award of Merit

The Vehicle Theft Award of Merit recognizes annually up to five categories of law enforcement agencies, task forces, councils, community partnerships, and other theft prevention alliances for their outstanding contributions to vehicle theft prevention and/or enforcement. A new award was launched in 2008 to recognize an individual law enforcement officer’s outstanding efforts in this realm. Entries are judged by the IACP Vehicle Theft Committee on initiative, on use of available resources, and on overall results. This program is supported by the ATX Group, LoJack Corporation, OnStar by GM, and Remington ELSAG Law Enforcement Systems, LLC.

Agency (251–1,000 Officers) Recognition: Plano, Texas, Police Department

The Plano, Texas, Police Department, of which Gregory W. Rushin is chief, exerted department-wide efforts during 2007 to increase the awareness of citizens to various aspects of vehicle theft and prevention and also to implement enforcement strategies that resulted in the reduction of vehicle thefts by 26 percent, from 533 in 2006 to 392 in 2007.

Agency (1,001+ Officers) Recognition: Mesa, Arizona, Police Department

The Mesa, Arizona, Police Department, of which George Gascón is chief, recognizes that quality policing is dynamic and requires change to meet challenges. Its internal and external programs in 2007 succeeded in providing more opportunities to educate the public that its employees serve and in reducing vehicle thefts 25 percent, from 3,594 in 2006 to 2,708 in 2007.

Multi-Agency Task Force Recognition (Tie)
Las Vegas, Nevada, Metropolitan Police Department Vehicle Investigations Project for Enforcement and Recovery

The efforts of the Vehicle Investigations Project for Enforcement and Recovery (VIPER) of the Las Vegas, Nevada, Metropolitan Police Department, of which Douglas C. Gillespie is sheriff, resulted in 3,099 fewer vehicles stolen in Clark County in 2007 than in 2006, translating into a savings of $12.7 million.

Stanislaus County, California, Auto Theft Task Force

The activities of the Stanislaus County, California, Auto Theft Task Force (StanCATT), of which Lieutenant Jeffrey M. Morris is commander, yielded the apprehension of a total of more than 200 vehicle thieves in 2007 and saw vehicle thefts in Stanislaus County decline by 3,664 in 2006–2007, a 27 percent reduction compared with 2004–2005.

Individual Recognitions
State: Senior Trooper Timothy D. Cowles, Iowa State Patrol

Senior Trooper Cowles developed an undercover storefront strategy known as “Operation Tow Truck.” In nine months, 83 stolen vehicles (cars, backhoes, boats, jet skis, motorcycles, pickups, and travel trailers)—worth more than $1.4 million—were purchased, along with cocaine, methamphetamine, guns, and other stolen property. The items purchased in 84 separate transactions had been stolen as early as March 2006, from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Texas. Twenty-six defendants were identified and arrested in January 2008.

Municipal: Police Agent Martin Bolger, Chula Vista, California, Police Department

Police Agent Bolger opened a storefront and—with the assistance of undercover law enforcement officers and informants—was able to purchase in 11 months 160 stolen vehicles worth more than $1.9 million, as well as illegal firearms and narcotics. The operation identified 91 suspects, many of whom were gang members and parolees with extensive criminal histories, and resulted in the issuance of 73 vehicle theft–related arrest warrants.

2009 applications due: May 11, 2009

For more information about the 2009 Vehicle Theft Award of Merit, visit the awards section on the IACP Web site,, or contact Dick Ashton at the IACP, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2357; by phone at 1-800-THE-IACP, extension 276; or via e-mail at

IACP Excellence in Police Aviation Award
Photos courtesy of the California Highway Patrol

There are three international awards presented by the IACP Aviation Committee and Bell Helicopter Textron: one to recognize an individual who holds a management or leadership position in police aviation, a second to a small aviation unit that exemplifies excellence in airborne law enforcement, and a third to a large aviation unit. These awards emphasize initiatives to enhance the general level and safety of operations, accident prevention programs, and the efficiency and effectiveness of airborne law enforcement.

Police Aviation Individual Award: Ralph Evangelous
Southeastern North Carolina Airborne Law Enforcement Unit

Chief Ralph Evangelous of the Wilmington, North Carolina, Police Department is the recipient of this year’s Excellence in Police Aviation Individual Award. Following his swearing-in as chief in 2004, Chief Evangelous embarked on a mission to provide enhanced police service by implementing an aviation unit. It was his belief that an aviation unit would benefit not only the residents of Wilmington, but the entire southeast North Carolina region.

Chief Evangelous recognized that the cost for this program would have to be shared regionally. He established a three-year timeline for the aviation unit to become operational, sought out regional partners, and applied for a surplus military helicopter through the U.S. government’s 10-33 program.

The Leland Police Department, the Pender County Sheriff’s Department, and, most recently, the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Department became full partners in the unit, to be known as the Southeastern North Carolina Airborne Law Enforcement (SABLE) Unit.

In 2006, the first aircraft was awarded, the first pilot was hired, and the aircraft refurbishing began. During this period, a second aircraft was awarded to provide continuity during maintenance events. In January 2007, following the installation of infrared thermal imaging technology and a spotlight, the first aircraft (SABLE 1) had its inaugural flight.

The Aviation Unit now flies four nights a week, with additional flights as needed, and has come a long way in proving its worth.

Small Program Award: Broward County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office
Broward County Aviation Unit

In operation since 1970, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit provides air support and general area patrol services for Broward County. The unit employs one sergeant/pilot, seven deputies/pilots, three mechanics, and 11 medics/observers; operates three Eurocopters; and performs both law enforcement and medevac missions.

Broward’s Aviation Unit credits its training and safety programs for over 40,000 accident-free flight hours. The unit places a great deal of emphasis on advanced flight training, crew briefing and debriefing, and risk management. Crew resource management for both pilots and medics/observers is stressed during quarterly safety meetings. The Aviation Unit also trains ground units on its capabilities, to include operations in and around the aircraft, as an added safety measure.

Large Program Award: California Highway Patrol, Office of Air Operations
Golden Gate Division/Air Operations Unit and Southern/Border Division–Metropolitan Air Operations Unit

The California Highway Patrol Office of Air Operations is recognized this year for the outstanding work performed by the Golden Gate Division/Air Operations Unit and the Southern/Border Division–Metropolitan Air Operations Unit.

The California Highway Patrol Golden Gate Division/Air Operations Unit comprises a captain, a lieutenant, three sergeants, 13 officer pilots, 13 flight officers, an analyst, and a contract helicopter mechanic. The unit operates two airplanes and two helicopters, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Golden Gate Division/Air Operations Unit patrols over 6,900 square miles of metropolitan areas, rural county roads, and critical waterways in the Bay Area. The unit operates in an area with over 100 different allied agencies, each with its own unique mission and role in the community it serves. As such, the Golden Gate Division aircraft assist in multiple roles, including pursuits, suspect searches, medevacs, marijuana eradication, and stolen vehicle recoveries.

The California Highway Patrol Southern/Border Metro Air Unit has come a long way since its inception in July 1996. Beginning with a sole OH-58 helicopter, it has evolved into a full-time unit with four helicopters; two airplanes; and a staff of 20 officers, two sergeants, one support person, and two mechanics.

The Southern/Border Metro Unit operates in the extremely busy airspace in the Los Angeles basin and Orange County area yet maintains over 25,000 accident-free flight hours. This is a testament to the unit’s commitment to training and safety.

2009 applications due: May 31, 2009

For more information about the IACP Excellence in Police Aviation Award, visit the awards section of the IACP Web site,, or contact Jack Grant, staff liaison, at the IACP, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2357; by phone at 1-800-THE-IACP, extension 839; or via e-mail at

IACP/ChoicePoint Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations

The IACP/ChoicePoint Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations is given to law enforcement agencies, law enforcement units, task forces, or interagency task forces in recognition of exceptional innovation and excellence in the area of criminal investigations. The 2008 winners were honored at an award breakfast at the annual IACP conference.

First Place Award: Richmond County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office
Gang Task Force

For approximately 16 months between the summer of 2006 and November 2007, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Gang Task Force conducted an undercover operation targeting local street gangs in the Augusta, Georgia, area. The operation began through the use of a tattoo artist as a confidential informant who aided investigators in identifying and targeting gang members who conducted gun deals at the tattoo artist’s residence/studio. Soon thereafter, in an effort to gain more gang-related intelligence, the task force moved the operation to an undercover tattoo parlor. A few months later, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives joined the operation, bringing additional resources and personnel to the effort.

Because of the uniqueness of a tattoo parlor and the credibility of the informant, gang members and other criminals readily brought weapons, assault rifles, narcotics, and stolen cars to the parlor to sell. Many of the customers were found to be either violent felons or gang members belonging to area or neighborhood gangs.

On November 14, 2007, over 100 law enforcement officers and agents conducted a massive roundup resulting in the arrest of 71 state and federal defendants in one day. Since then, 30 other defendants have been arrested in connection with the operation.

This undercover operation was unique because it was particularly successful in identifying gang members in additional crimes and severely damaging the local gang structure.

First Runner-up: Pasadena, California, Police Department
Community Response to Eradicate and Deter Identity Theft

In 2004, the Pasadena Police Department’s policy mandated that a criminal investigation be initiated for each crime report taken. First, it had to be determined whether the crime occurred in its jurisdiction or in another jurisdiction. If in another jurisdiction, it must refer the case to that jurisdiction with all available information. If it occurred in its jurisdiction, specific investigative steps had to be taken. Needless to say, the Financial Crimes Unit had to formulate a plan to deal with the overabundance of identity theft cases; otherwise the unit would not be able to function.

The solution was to formulate a plan to use civilians to assist in identity theft cases. The program was called Community Response to Eradicate and Deter Identity Theft (CREDIT). Using citizen volunteers, all graduates from the Citizen Police Academy, the detectives trained these volunteers as identity theft specialists.

In 2004, when the program was started, volunteers processed and worked on 400 cases. In 2007, they processed and worked 759 cases. Without the innovation to create this program or the hard work of the volunteers, there would not be sufficient resources to work all the assigned cases.

Second Runner-up: Palm Bay, Florida, Police Department
Local DNA Index System

Beginning in January 2007, the Palm Bay Police Department collaborated with DNA:SI Labs, the forensic unit of DNA Security, Incorporated, to create the Local DNA Index System, known as LODIS. Created as an innovative integration of disparate disciplines, human identification by DNA, and advanced computer database science, LODIS brings the power of DNA identification directly to the desktops and vehicles of detectives and patrol officers. Currently, results are returned to investigators in less than two weeks.

During the initial phase of the program, from the first quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2008, more that 5,000 evidence swabs and suspect samples were entered into the LODIS database. The Palm Bay Police Department has had more than 350 total hits. In addition, DNA profiles of 41 suspects were matched to 145 evidence samples taken from crime scenes (called blind hits).

2009 applications due: June 1, 2009

For more information about the IACP/ChoicePoint Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations, visit the awards section of the IACP Web site,, or contact staff liaison Phil Lynn at the IACP, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2357; by phone at 1-800-THE-IACP, extension 324; or via e-mail at



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVI, no. 1, January 2009. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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