Minot Police Department Chief Jason Olson presented the annual awards for outstanding employees of the department for the 2012 year at a ceremony in the police training room at the Minot Police Department Wednesday afternoon.
This year two awards were given to recognize the employees of the year for both the civilian support staff and for law enforcement staff, instead of the single overall employee of the year award given out in previous years. Recognition is awarded in a nomination and voting process within the department in which the two were chosen over six other nominees.
Christine Roberts, a principal administrative clerk in the Crime Prevention Office, was recognized as the 2012 Outstanding Police Employee of the Year and Senior Officer Jason Bambenek, who is a night-shift patrol officer, was recognized as Police Officer of the Year.
"The police department really is full of a lot of outstanding employees," Olson said by way of introduction. "We don't have enough awards to give out and when you have to narrow it down to one or two people a year it doesn't do justice to all the good work that's done down here."
"A very special employee has not only gone beyond the call of duty but has been put in a position to fulfill duties regularly assigned to other divisions. The increased demands put on the Crime Prevention Unit coupled with the vacancy of the second officer for the past years have forced the duties of the administrative secretary to take on a whole new meaning," Olson said. "Christine Roberts has met those challenges and learned to multi-task in order to have the Crime Prevention Unit to run as smoothly as possible."
"She enjoys her work environment and her kindness and generosity have a contagious effect on fellow employees," he added.
"I just wanted to say thank you to you all. This has kind of become my second family since I have no other family here in North Dakota," Roberts said after accepting her award, a letter and a card. Roberts is originally from California. "So I just wanted to say thank you and it's a pleasure to work with each and every one of you."
"Officer Bambenek is a field training officer at the Minot Police Department. He is also a DRE, or drug recognition officer, and in fact the only DRE officer employed at the Minot Police Department. Officer Bambenek also takes a lot of pride in his job and helps keep the streets of Minot safer. Officer Bambenek is an instructor for field sobriety tests and leads by example. Each year Officer Bambenek is at or near the top for DUI arrests. I think in 2012 I counted 59 DUI arrests. He continues to go above and beyond."
"In the last couple of years Officer Bambenek has taken on more of a leadership role in the streets," Olson said and spoke about Bambenek's proven ability to track down stolen materials that lead to an arrest. "He is an asset to the night shift, the Minot P.D. and the citizens of Minot."
"We have a lot more people who are driving under the influence of something other than alcohol right now," Bambenek said in an interview after the ceremony about his particular drug detecting skill-set and the changes facing the department. "However the training hasn't really increased for law enforcement to detect it."
He sees the changes in Minot to not be as threatening as they might first appear. Acts of crime still generally occur between people who know each other and that the "randomness isn't there as far as large communities. I still feel that the community is safe."
"This isn't a single effort," Bambenek said after receiving his uniform pin, letter and card from Olson. "It's nice to receive an award like this but it's everybody collectively that worked together. Not only in our agency but we have good support in surrounding law enforcement in the city of Minot and that benefits the community. Any time the community can get ahold of us and help us out we can do our jobs better for them. It's just not me getting this award, it's everybody. This is a team effort. Obviously it takes a whole team to get this completed, so thank you."