General Headquarters — Columbus, Ohio
For Immediate Release: February
Contact: Lt. Tony Bradshaw (614) 752-2792
COLUMBUS – Outstanding employees of the Ohio State Highway Patrol were recognized today at the Patrol’s Annual Awards Luncheon in Columbus. Colonel Paul D. McClellan, Patrol superintendent, presented the awards. Top honors include:
Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper of the Year – Tpr. Joshua P. Eldridge, Piqua Post, was selected from the 10 District Troopers of the Year. A graduate of the 137th Academy Class, he has been assigned to the Piqua Post since September 2001 and is a member of the Division’s Special Response Team. He resides in West Milton with his wife, Batina, and their son, Dorian.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Dispatcher of the Year – Dispatcher Karen J. Myers, Van Wert Post, was selected as State Dispatcher of the Year. She began her career as administrative staff at the Van Wert Post in April 1973, before becoming a Patrol dispatcher in January 1976. She resides in Van Wert.
O.W. Merrell Meritorious Service Award – Tpr. Albert K. Leitenberger, Findlay Post, and Tpr. Charles G. Grizzard, Walbridge Post, received the highest award for valor for their efforts in a March 25, 2006, pursuit and shooting.
In an effort to obtain an Ohio Identification Card, a suspect presented fraudulent documents to employees at the Bowling Green Office of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The Bowling Green Police Department responded to question the suspect. Upon being confronted, the suspect attempted to flee the building and became involved in a struggle with the officer. During the struggle, the suspect pulled out a handgun and fired once at the officer, then fled to an awaiting minivan.
Troopers from three Patrol posts and officers from several other area law enforcement agencies participated in the pursuit of the suspect southbound on Interstate 75. After a pursuit of almost 40 miles, Tpr. Leitenberger deployed stop sticks that disabled the suspect’s vehicle, leading the suspect to exit the interstate and eventually stop at a service station in the Village of Bluffton. The suspect exited the minivan, firing multiple weapons at officers while attempting to steal a second vehicle that was occupied by its owner.
Officers were forced to return fire in an attempt to end the deadly encounter. During the exchange of gunfire, Tpr. Leitenberger was seriously wounded in the right forearm and Tpr. Grizzard was wounded in the right hand. Despite his injury, Tpr. Grizzard assisted Tpr. Leitenberger to an area of safety. The suspect died of injuries he received as a result of gunfire. For their heroic actions Tpr. Grizzard and Tpr. Leitenberger received the Superintendent’s Citation of Merit.
Tpr. Leitenberger is a graduate of the 112th Academy Class and has been assigned to the Fremont and Findlay Posts and Bucyrus District Headquarters. Tpr. Leitenberger was forced to retire this past October due to injuries he received during this incident. He currently resides in Tiffin with his wife, Carolyn, and their three children: Nicholas, Emma and Lily.
Tpr. Grizzard is a graduate of the 122nd Academy Class and has been assigned to the Swanton and Walbridge Posts, as well as Findlay District Headquarters. He currently lives in Bowling Green with his wife, Marcia, and their two children: Jack and Josie.
Blue Max Award (Patrol’s top auto larceny enforcer) – Tpr. Timothy S. Durham, was honored with a Blue Max Award for recovering 22 stolen vehicles, valued at $64,750 and resulting in the apprehension of 29 suspects. A graduate of the 139th Academy Class, he has been assigned to the Springfield Post since October 2002. He resides in Woodstock.
Robert M. Chiaramonte Humanitarian Award – Tpr. Chandra M. Skufca was honored with the Chiaramonte Award that was established to recognize troopers’ dedication to humanitarian efforts both professionally and personally. Tpr. Skufca has represented the Patrol with honor and integrity, and in a way befitting of this award’s namesake, Retired Colonel Robert M. Chiaramonte.
Tpr. Skufca is a tireless volunteer, who eagerly accepts speech details or other occasions that provide the opportunity to make a personal connection with the public the Patrol serves. She is involved in the Special Olympics and has helped to raise thousands of dollars for this cause. She volunteers in the “Santa Shop” in Ashtabula and for Buckeye Girls State.
A member of the 141st Academy Class, Tpr. Skufca was assigned to the Ashtabula Post in March 2004. She recently transferred to the Patrol’s Academy in Columbus as an instructor. Tpr. Skufca resides in Geneva.
Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspector of the Year – Motor Carrier Enforcement Inspector (MCEI) Thomas L. Michael, Massillon District, was awarded the Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspector of the Year. Michael joined the Patrol in 2004. He resides in Akron with his wife, Gail.
Criminal Patrol Award – Tpr. Timothy K. Bullock, Springfield Post, was awarded for having the most investigations of felony cases that led to felony arrests. In 2006, he had 46 felony cases and 52 felony arrests. He is a member of the 143rd Academy Class and has been assigned to the Springfield Post since June 2005. Tpr. Bullock resides in Springfield with his wife, Kristen, and their two children: Ellyaris and Evan.
This is the second time this team has captured statewide honors, having also won this award in 2003.
Ohio Trooper Recognition Award – Tpr. Ronald P. Schneider, Warren District Investigations, was selected from 11 regional recipients. The Trooper Recognition Award recognizes excellence among troopers who are assigned to specialty positions. Tpr. Schneider began his career in the Patrol at the Lisbon Post as a member of the administrative staff. He is a member of the 116th Academy Class and has served at the Delaware, Ravenna and Lisbon Posts. Tpr. Schneider resides in Leetonia with his wife, Dala, and their three daughters: Emily, Sabrina and Samantha.
OSHP Employee Recognition Award (District) – An eight-year veteran, James A. Franklin, Maintenance Repair Worker 2, of the Gallipolis Post, received the award presented annually to recognize excellence in field employees who are not troopers or dispatchers. Franklin resides in Gallipolis with his wife, Carrie, and their son, Cole.
OSHP Employee Recognition Award (General Headquarters) – Nearly a 12-year veteran, Tanya L. Benner, Personnel Testing Specialist 3, Office of Human Resource Management, received the award presented annually to recognize excellence in employees who are not troopers or dispatchers. Benner resides in Columbus.
Note to Editors: Below are District honors for: District Trooper of the Year, District Dispatcher of the Year, District Trooper Recognition, and District Employee Recognition. For photographs of award winners, e-mail wwwOHP@dps.state.oh.us with requests.
Findlay District – Tpr. Albert K. Leitenberger, Findlay Post; Disp. Karen J. Myers, Van Wert Post; Tpr. Alejo Romero, Findlay District Headquarters; and Tammy K. Frazier (Driver License Examiner 1), Findlay Post.
Bucyrus District – Tpr. Shane M. Morrow, Mansfield Post; Disp. Terry L. Whitlock, Fremont Post; Tpr. Douglas A. Hamman, Bucyrus District Headquarters; and Mary Sue Peppard (Secretary), Marion Post.
Massillon District – Tpr. Charles R. Abbuhl, Wooster Post; Disp. E. Coleen Foss, Ashland Post; Tpr. Gary T. Wolfe, Massillon District Headquarters; and Douglas A. Bell (Motor Carrier Enforcement Inspector), Massillon District Headquarters.
Warren District – Tpr. Christopher T. Jester, Lisbon Post; Disp. Cheryl A. Smith, Canfield Post; Tpr. Ronald P. Schneider, Warren District Headquarters; and Lynette M. Rawlings (Secretary), Lisbon Post.
Piqua District – Tpr. Joshua P. Eldridge, Piqua Post; Disp. Patricia A. Nelson, Wapakoneta Post; Tpr. James R. Bennett II, Piqua District Headquarters; and Kay M. Anderson (Secretary), Piqua Post.
Columbus District – Tpr. Justin C. Hurlbert, Mt. Gilead Post; Disp. Erica L. Lanning, Lancaster Post; Tpr. Jason S. Allison, Columbus District Headquarters; and Brenda S. Amison (Secretary) Mt. Gilead Post.
Cambridge District – Tpr. Gregory A. Mamula, Steubenville Post; Disp. Toni L. Roach, Marietta Post; Laura C. Taylor, Cambridge District Headquarters; and Larry A. Eller (Stationary Load Limit Inspector), New Philadelphia Post.
Wilmington District – Tpr. Robert M. Hayslip, Georgetown Post; Disp. Patty J. Downing, Batavia Post; Tpr. Daniel R. Brown, Wilmington District Headquarters; and Sandra M. Rhodes (Secretary), Batavia Post.
Jackson District – Tpr. Douglas A. DeBord, Chillicothe Post; Disp. Drew E. Fry, Ironton Post; Tpr. Michael V. Maughmer, Jackson District Headquarters; and James A. Franklin (Maintenance Repair Worker 2), Gallipolis Post.
Berea District – Tpr. Orlando Pagan, Milan Post; Disp. Linda M. White, Berea District Headquarters; Tpr. Gregory S. Blake, Cleveland Investigations; and Ann Gambert (Secretary), Cleveland Operations.
GHQ – District Trooper Recognition, Tpr. Jeffrey S. Davis, Office of Investigative Services. Employee Recognition Awards: Marsha A. Rigsby (Executive Secretary 1), Office of Investigative Services; Tanya L. Benner (Personnel Testing Specialist 3) Office of Human Resource Management; Tina M. Stewart (Management Analysis Supervisor) Office of Recruitment and Training; Randall K. Bogue (Network Administrator 2) Office of Technology and Communication Services; Linda Carson (Executive Secretary 1) Office of Licensing and Commercial Standards; Nancy L. Hite (Account Examiner 3) Office of Finance and Logistics; Michael Coakley (Videographer) Office of Strategic Services; Virgal Neal (Police Officer 2) Office of Field Operations.
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