Buffalo Grove traffic unit wins big honors, gets special car

  • The Buffalo Grove police show off a Ford SUV the department won for a year at the awards ceremony for a national traffic safety challenge.

    The Buffalo Grove police show off a Ford SUV the department won for a year at the awards ceremony for a national traffic safety challenge. Photo courtesy Buffalo Grove Police Department

Published11/20/2008 12:02 AM

The Buffalo Grove Police Department recently collected several accolades for its traffic unit.

In the national Association of Chiefs of Police contest, the department won for its safety and education programs for its size - 66 to 100 officers - and also for having the best traffic safety program in the country.


That contest was against 860 other agencies, including many state police departments.

On top of that, the department also ended up winning a Ford SUV to use for a year. The vehicle includes $10,000 worth of equipment, and the department is able to purchase it at a lower cost at the end of the year.

"(The traffic unit) is committed to this community," Chief Steve Balinski said during a village board meeting Monday.

Sgt. Scott Kristiansen, who is part of the traffic unit, said the department was judged on policies, training, public education and enforcement.

"We all as a community are saving lives," he said, touting the fact that the village has a 19-year low in crashes.

The department has won many annual traffic awards, but the icing on the cake this year was the free vehicle.

Coloring awards: Besides touting some of its achievements Monday, the police department also gave out awards to local school children that participated in an annual coloring contest.

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First Midwest Bank gives out $50 savings bonds each year to the winners from kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Linsey Baloun from St. Mary's School was the kindergartner winner this year. The first grade winner was Mia Raftery, also from St. Mary's. Donghyun Lee of Tripp Elementary School took home the 2nd grade prize, and the 3rd grade winner was Michelle Karan from Ivy Hall School.

The Buffalo Grove Rotary Club, in conjunction with the police, also gave out a free bike last month as part of a good bike riding program.

Officers who saw children practicing bike safety gave out coupons for a free drink throughout the year, and one person was chosen to get the free bike and helmet.

Seven-year-old Katie Green from Ivy Hall School was surprised by the Rotary with that award in October.

Saving lives: Buffalo Grove firefighters were also honored Monday night for saving the lives of two residents in need of emergency care.

Fire Chief Terry Vavra said that since he started in his new position earlier this year, he's been wanting to recognize the work being done in the department.


"We didn't recognize our people enough for the work that they do," Vavra said.

Lt. Ken Zarnecki, Mark Anderson, Deborah Lezon, Charlie Kolder and Dennis Quill were all given citations for a call they went on Sept. 4. A 60-year-old was having a seizure and was found without a pulse. After the crew performed CPR, he was taken to the hospital and released eight days later.

The second lifesaving call came on Oct. 21. A 76-year-old was having difficulty breathing, and he was unconscious when crews arrived. Randy Buttliere, William Navarro, Larry Lezon, Clark Pound and Tom Gough were called to the home, and the patient was brought back to a normal heart rhythm.

"This is an ending we hope for on all calls," Vavra said.

• Although this week's column is all about Buffalo Grove, if you have story ideas for Wheeling, Long Grove or Buffalo Grove, pass them along to Nadia Malik at (847) 427-4489 or nmalik@dailyherald.com

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