An excerpt from Officer Michelle Ortiz's acceptance speech after she was recognized as the department's 2016 Ralph F. Hamlin Officer of the Year.
CHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois Police Department this month held its annual awards ceremony, which included recognition for the outstanding work of officers, civilian staff and community members.
Officer Michelle Ortiz was chosen by her peers as the Ralph F. Hamlin Officer of the Year.
Here's her citation, as it was read during the June 3 ceremony:
Ortiz has been an officer with UIPD since 2002. During her time, she has been involved in numerous areas of the department, including Metro SWAT, crime scene technician, honor guard, R.A.D., less-lethal instructor, fitness program, strategy and tactics, and control tactics. Outside of the department, Ortiz contributes by volunteering her time giving motivational speeches at the Lincoln’s Challenge Academy and mentoring at-risk youth.
Ortiz consistently approaches her job with her best effort no matter the task or the risk. She is community-based in that her passion is keeping our students and all community members safe. She has excelled in her efforts to make the streets of campus and the entire Champaign-Urbana area safer. Officer Ortiz has removed numerous violent and armed offenders from areas near campus, ensuring a safer environment for students, staff, and community members.
Ortiz has made a conscious effort at both self-improvement and the improvement of those around her. There are numerous accounts of how her efforts are noticed and that those improvements are easily recognized. Those improvements include both the way she approaches her work and the way in which she interacts with those around her. Many that work with Ortiz view her as a valuable source of information, a level of excellence and professionalism to attempt to achieve, and a leader and mentor.
Ortiz also was the recipient of a number of other awards, several of which were in recognition for her work identifying and removing armed or otherwise dangerous individuals from the street and likely preventing at least one armed robbery.
Other notable awards included the Life Saving Award given to Fighting Illini swim and dive team member Charli Wike and Jillian Marino, who saved a man's life after he collapsed at a campus bar. Sgt. Rob Benoit was surprised with the first-ever "Sergeant of the Year" award — given not by the department, but his fellow officers — in recognition for the example he sets for those he supervises and his ability to teach from experience.
Records Clerk Alex Howard was selected as UIPD's civilian employee of the year for his meticulous record-keeping, statistical analyses and ensuring that the department and university remain in compliance with a number of state and federal mandates.
Greg Snipes was recognized as the Security Officer of the Year, for "his true dedication and commitment to the safety and security of our students, University Housing residents, and the whole campus community."
Here's the full listing of awards:
Fitness Recognition Award
Life Saving Award
Charli M. Wike
A.J. Martin (2)
Justin Age (3)
Michelle Ortiz (8)
Rob Benoit (2)
Grant Briggs (5)
George Sandwick (2)
Brian Tison (2)
Mike Unander (2)
Eric Vogt (5)
James Scheel (3)
Elma Halpin (2)
Ryan Lepp (2)
Citizen Commendation Awards
Excellence in Community Policing
Civilian Employee of the Year
Director of Public Safety Recognition Award
Public Safety Recognition Award
Campus Emergency Planning Recognition Award
Lorraine “Cathy” Acevedo Award
Student Patrol Officer of the Year
Student Patrol Commendation
Security Officer of the Year
Ralph F. Hamlin Officer of the Year Award