Hilliard Police Officers recognized for selfless service, longevity with agency

Posted April 6, 2018 in Police by Andrea Litchfield

Members of the Hilliard Division of Police celebrated a year of accomplishments and a bright future as the agency recently held its Annual Awards Dinner and Appreciation Banquet.

Many officers were recognized for their selfless service to the Hilliard community during the event.

“Each year we gather our team together to recognize accomplishments and celebrate the great things that our folks have done for the community,” said Chief of Police Robert Fisher. “These individuals help make Hilliard a great place to live and work.”

Among the recipients were three young officers, who received the biggest awards of the evening.

Officer Jared Zellers, who has served with Hilliard police since 2011, was named the Employee of the Year for the Field Operations Bureau, which includes all patrol officers. He has served on patrol for seven years.

His peers chose him for the award. One co-worker called him the “steady rock for second shift,” as he served as the Officer-in-Charge during some difficult calls, acting on many occasions “like a seasoned sergeant.”

Officer Vanessa Spears, who joined the agency in 2014, received the Mayor’s Award from Mayor Don Schonhardt.

The award is reserved for those whose behavior reflects the highest ideals of public service, and whose contribution to the overall operation of the police department far exceeds that which would be considered even beyond the demanding standard of above and beyond the call of duty, Schonhardt said.

Officer Spears is known for her incredibly positive and contagious attitude,” Schonhardt said. “Her co-workers describe her as a team player who is genuine all the way through.”

She has served as a member of the Honor Guard, Bike Patrol and Traffic Crash Investigation Team, and was recently named a Field Training Officer. In one incident this past year, she went above and beyond the call of duty by arranging and paying for several nights of a hotel for a homeless family.

Officer Hunter Schweickart, who also joined the agency in 2014, received the Community Service Award for his community outreach. The award is reserved for those who are actively engaged in public dialog with the community, and help the public better understand and appreciate the role of safety forces.

The entire world learned he is a true public servant this past May when one of his actions made international headlines. While making a routine traffic stop, Officer Schweickart noticed there were three children in the car, but only an 8-month-old was properly restrained. The 2-year-old and 3-year-old did not have car seats.

Without realizing he was being photographed by his supervisor, he went to a nearby Target and purchased two car seats with his own money. He then tracked down the family to give them the items.

The agency recognized two others for Employee of the Year: Property Room Custodian Todd Harper for the Bureau of Investigations, and Administrative Assistant Linda Haynes for the Support Services Bureau.

The agency recognized several individuals who distinguished themselves in the line of duty in various situations, including providing lifesaving CPR, halting a high-speed chase and prohibiting a suicide, among other actions.

Achievement Citations were awarded to Officers Matt Braden, Dustin Gigandet, Dustin Vance, Jared Zellers; a Distinguished Service Citation was awarded to Officer Vanessa Spears; a Merit Citation was awarded to Officer Hunter Schweickart; a Commendation Citation was awarded to Officer Run Burkitt; and Life Saving Citations were awarded to Officers Dustin Gigandet, Dustin Vance, Matt Braden, Bill Okey, and Sgt. Josh Cohill and Kris Settles.

The agency also recognized staff members with Longevity Awards for reaching service milestones.

Those individuals are the following: For five years of service, Officer Dustin Vance, Detective Austin Vogelsang and Chief Bobby Fisher; for 10 years of service, Officer Josh Barnett and Officer Tony LaRosa; for 15 years of service, Sgt. Josh Cohill; for 20 years of service; Officer Jon Gleason and Officer Jim Large; for 25 years of service, Clerk Chris Bowen and property room custodian Todd Harper; and for 30 years of service, Officer Rich Quigley.

A longtime volunteer of the agency, Hilliard resident Ken Schmidt, was also recognized for his invaluable assistance to the agency with the Outstanding Volunteer Award. Schmidt has donated more than 2,000 hours of his time since he began volunteering in 2010.

Meal sponsors for the event were Heartland Bank, Buckeye Nissan, Homewood Suites and Sugarplum Cakery.