Elgin officers, employees honored for outstanding work
Sworn officers and civilian employees of the Elgin Police Department were recognized for their outstanding performances during a recent annual awards ceremony.
• Dispatcher Mary Wanic and officer Jason Barnard received a lifesaving award for their response to a 911 call May 15 from a man who said his father had collapsed and was gasping for air. Wanic stayed on the phone with the man, coaching him through chest compressions and reassuring him help was on the way.
Barnard, a 13-year veteran of the department, activated his emergency lights to get there as fast as possible. When he arrived and the son opened the door, Barnard realized he knew the family from his beat work in the neighborhood.
He rushed upstairs and found the father on the floor, not breathing, so he started chest compressions while the son did mouth-to-mouth breathing. A few minutes later, paramedics arrived and took the man to the hospital. He survived the heart attack and is back home.
Barnard said this was the first time he performed successful CPR on someone.
"I was somewhat hopeful. He had begun to lose his color, but it wasn't like when people turn almost bluish when they lose oxygen."
"We do CPR quite often here and, unfortunately, it's not always this kind of a turnout. I knew that this time, since the son saw him collapse, I knew we had a really good chance."
Barnard said he grateful that he helped the man survive, for his family and for the community at large.
"I'm glad that God had me in the right spot and the right time and I was able to serve him and his family in that way," he said.
• Wanic, who's worked in Elgin for seven years, also was named Dispatcher of the Year. Wanic always goes "above and beyond" in her duties as a dispatcher and training officer, always helpful and available to answer questions. She's been a part of the department's awards committee, a member of the computer-aided dispatch team and a member of the Operation Shattered Stars peer support team.
Being a dispatcher is the best job she can imagine, Wanic said.
"I do it because it's a calling for me," she said. "This is going to sound like a cliché, but we take calls from ordinary people that find themselves in extraordinary circumstances for a small moment in time, and we guide them and help them through that.
"Sometimes there's great outcomes ... but even if it's not going to turn out great, we let them know they're not alone."
• Detective Andrew Houghton was named Officer of the Year. He's worked in Elgin since 2012 and focuses on internet crimes, researching computer software programs that best help solve crimes, working toward educating parents and youths about the potential dangers lurking online, and his multiple investigations resulting in arrests of child sex offenders.
• Sgt. Zack McCorkle was named Manager of the Year. He was hired in 1994 and is in charge of the technical investigations unit. He has taken the real-time information center to a new level despite having little technical background, his superiors said.
He demonstrates initiative and a desire for learning while taking on additional responsibilities, and he is dedicated to employee wellness.
• Community service officer Jason Schultz received the Civilian of the Year award. He's been employed by the department since 2001 and constantly strives toward being more efficient in all aspects of the job, his superiors said.
He took a lead position working with the department's "real-time information center" on the night shift, assists the technical investigations unit with securing video and is a member of the drone team.
• Officer Christopher Valle was named Rookie of the Year. He has a strong work ethic, positive attitude, knowledge of the law, ability to talk to people and willingness to further develop his skills in the field, his superiors said.