5th Annual Communications Officer and Communications and Electronic Services Technician of the Year awards

Department of Public Safety held the 5th Annual Communications Officer and Communications and Electronic Services Technician of the Year awards Thursday at a luncheon held at Rose State College.

The recipients were nominated by their peers for their performance in daily operations and extreme situations.

The Communications of the Year award was Presented to Gene Heisler, an 18-year veteran of the Communications Division assigned to Troop K, located in Pawnee. "Through his tenure he has proven himself to be steadfast in performance and ability," said Captain Keith Leimbach. "He has a natural ability and a given talent to remain in control no matter what the circumstances are surrounding him."

In the early morning hours of October 30th this ability was called upon. While answering a routine call for service shortly after 1:00 a.m., Communications Officer Heisler was forced to deal with a circumstance that most will never face. While gathering facts concerning a routine collision on Interstate 35, his call was cut short. Unknown to him, a second collision had occurred killing the caller. The situation had now escalated and he had to rely on his own intuition. He calmly and methodically set about handling the incident, now with a much more serious situation dealing directly with human life. Though not able to control the outcome of this event he performed his duties in a manner keeping with the highest traditions of public safety.

"Ken Kappen has served with the agency for four years and has proven to be quite an asset to our division," said Dennis Mitchell, Director of the Communications and Electronic Services Division.

"Ken is responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of the communications equipment utilized by the Highway Patrol across the state," said Mitchell.

Mitchell said "Kappen is subject to being called out 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He has served with the agency's Command Posts on several occasions, including the Bristow Eizember manhunt and the state's tornados in recent years."

Ken also assist other state and local governments in programming radios and interoperability equipment.

"Despite his numerous duties, Ken always has a great attitude," Mitchell said.

This event coincides with National Public Safety Telecommunications week, April 10-16.