A crowd gathered at the South Bend Police Department on Sunday, April 3 for their 14th annual awards ceremony. At the event, officers were honored for acts ranging from talking a man out of suicide to apprehending an armed robbery suspect. The ceremony also recognized civilian employees and residents who have rendered outstanding service to the department.

“The officers and civilians honored are a credit to the profession, this department, and our community,” Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski says. “Last year proved to be a challenging year for law enforcement and I admire our officers’ ability to stay focused, build relationships with residents, carry out care tasks, and remain committed to serving and protecting the community.”

Officer of the Year
John Comeau and Joe Mitchell

The Officer of the Year award recognizes outstanding achievement and exceptional professional skill among officers.

John Comeau has served on the force for four years and is known for going above and beyond the call of duty. “It seems the Department receives a call every week with accolades for John,” Chief Ruszkowski says. “Colleagues admire him for his willingness to take the extra step, no matter the cause.”

Joe Mitchell, a six-year veteran, was honored for his leadership and diligence. In 2015, Mitchell investigated over 100 criminal incidents, mostly felony crimes. “Joe’s patience and ability to communicate with victims, witnesses, and suspects often bring cases quickly to a close,” Chief Ruszkowski says. “Joe is widely admired for his ability to provide comfort and assurance to victims and their families.” 

Chief’s Award of Valor
Aaron Brick, Sam Chaput, Neil Graber and Jeremy Siade

Chief’s Award of Merit
Darryl Boykins

Department Commendation
Joe Cole, John Comeau, Paul Daley, Kathy Fulnecky, Devon Gilbert, Dave Herron, Travis Kukla, Tim Lancaster, Joe Leszczynski, Antonio Pacheco, Anthony Ross, Michael Tutino, Chris Voros and Terry Young

Community Problem Solving
John Comeau     

Unit Meritorious Performance Award, Street Crimes
Steve Berger, Neil Graber, Dave Johnson, Dan Lawecki, James Maxey, Dan Skibins, and David Young

Unit Meritorious Performance Award, Major Crimes
Blair Fleming, Chris Houser, Joe Mitchell, Gery Mullins, and Tim Wiley

Lifesaving Award                                                   
Anthony Dertz, Dominic Hall, Steve Jaworski, Travis Teague, Mark Walsh, and resident Steve Jaworski

Patti Derue Nemeth Humanitarian Award
Ron Glon

Officers of the Month
Joseph Leszczynski and Mike Tutino, February
Joe Cole, March
Josh Morgan, April
Joe Cole, May
Fred Eyster, June
Ron Kaszas, July
Travis Teague, August
Neil Graber, October
Reid Spitaels, November

Community Oriented Policing Special Partnership Awardpresented to a civilian or organization
Youth Services Bureau
Keith Walatka and The Beacon

Dortha Paxton Awardpresented to a civilian employee
Bill Pelletier

Special Recognitionpresented to both civilians and officers
Phil St. Clair, Ray Comer, Ryan Dustin, Becky Kiser, Deb Sallee, Melissa Stokley, and the late Ken Robison