Detective Varga holds his son as Chief Fleming congratulates him. (Photo: VOPF)
Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Detective James Varga was named Park Forest Police Department’s Officer of the Year after receiving several awards and being nominated by his peers to receive the recognition this year. Detective Varga joined the Park Forest Police Department in September of 1998 after serving in the United States Marine Corps where he also was a Patrol Officer.
“He’s tenacious and meticulous,” says Police Chief Tom Fleming of Detective James Varga’s approach to his job.
He spent his first 7 years with Park Forest as an Officer before being promoted to Detective in 2005. He has held roles as a Special Operations Group Team Member, School Police Liaison Officer, Field Training Officer, Juvenile Officer and South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force Member.
Last year Varga was the recipient of the prestigious Medal of Valor Award but has always had his sites set on achieving “top cop” honors.
On being named officer of the year he says, “It’s a nice accomplishment. It was a goal I set aside for myself and it’s an honor to receive the award.”
The Officer of the Year Award is given to the officer who best exemplifies through performance, the principles and purposes of law and the Park Forest Police Department. Officers receiving awards during the year are automatically considered. Any officer may be considered by the Awards Board or be nominated by any member of the Police Department. Such factors as performance as measured by evaluations and Commander’s observations, attendance, appearance, dedication to duty and efforts toward self-improvement are also considered.
The citation Varga received reads as follows:
Detective James Varga is a nine year veteran of the Park Forest Police Department, having previously served as a member of the Special Operations Group and as field training officer. For the past 18 months, he has been assigned to the Investigations Division. In 2007, Detective Varga was a three-time recipient of the department's Meritorious Service Award for his role in the successful investigation of two Park Forest homicides, and an aggravated kidnapping. In previous years, he has also won the department's medal of valor, two Term Awards, and two outstanding service awards. Detective Varga has also been involved in the investigations of several more homicides as a member of the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, and has consistently cleared a large number of other major cases, including burglaries, robberies, and sexual abuse cases. It is because of his outstanding dedication to not only the Village of Park Forest, but of the south suburbs of Cook County, that Detective James Vargas has been named Park Forest Officer of the Year for 2007.
Police also unveiled the new shield of the Park Forest Police Department at the recognition ceremony on December 1. (Graphic: VOPF)
18 officers were awarded the Meritorious Service Award for services redered in the line of duty where the officer, because of his/her initiative, diligence and perseverance, performs a difficult act in which crime is prevented, life saved, property protected or criminals apprehended. Officers receiving the award include Detective Commander Peter Green, Detective Corporal Paul Winfrey, Detective Michael Baugh, Detective Todd Beilke, Detective Jeffrey DeVries, Detective Darin Struder, Detective James Varga, Police Officer Brian Rzyski, Detective Commander Peter Green, Detective Corporal Christopher Mannino and Police Officer Julius Moore.
The Citizen Award was presented to eight individuals. The award is issued to citizens whose actions were instrumental in the apprehension of a criminal and/or other extraordinary action to protect life and/or property. This year’s recipients include Walter Cade, Terri Costello, Durant Freeman, Lucy Rivera, Chuck Rubino, John Hogan and Cardell Spencer.
The entire Police Athletic and Activity Center (PAAC) Team Supervisors were also recognized. PAAC opened on June 17, 1997. The program was developed in response to an increasing number of negative police contacts with unsupervised or “at-risk” juveniles, according to police. The program now serves over 500 young people each year not only in the summer PAAC Program, but through the Saturday Night Live program, the Eastside Sports Club, Saturday’s Community Service Program and the Indiana After School Program.
This year’s PAAC Team Supervisors include Jennifer McGill, Thomas Fleming III, Brendan Fleming, Sara Kistner, Michael Norwood, Andre Taylor, Nicole Sorenson, Stacie Wolf, Jacob Gloude, Lacreisha Johnson, Stefanie Thomas, Christopher Brown and Quincy Owens. Jason Miller and Omar Davis were also recognized for their many years of dedication and service.
Several officers also received Outstanding Service Awards, given when an action or service is performed during routine duty which would be classified as an outstanding or exceptional performance. Those honored include Officer Joseph Butler, Corporal Michael LoSchiavo, Officer Brian Obremski, Officer Charlie Hoskins, Officer Jon Mannino, Officer Brian Rzyski, Corporal Scott Sheets, Officer John Sweitzer, Commander Brian Tas, Detective Todd Beilke, Officer William Busse, Officer Lloyd Elliot, Officer Mitchell Greer, Officer Julius Moore, Officer Tom Piszczor, Corporal T.J. Boulden, Officer Kevin Houcek and Records Clerk Eshe McGee.
Varga and the other officers and citizens were honored on Sunday, December 2nd as part of the 4th Annual Park Forest Police Honors Ceremony at Freedom Hall.