MEDINA — The Medina post of the Ohio Highway Patrol has named the trooper and dispatcher of the year: Harley Steppenbacker and Jennifer J. Smolka.
Lt. Bill Haymaker, post commander, said fellow officers at the post selected Steppenbacker, 36, based on his leadership abilities, professional ethics, courteous treatment of others, enthusiastic work attitude and cooperation with supervisors, peers and the public.
Steppenbacker also was honored as the District 3 Trooper of the Year. District 3 encompasses the counties of Medina, Ashland, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Stark, Summit and Wayne.
With his selection, Steppenbacker is in contention for Ohio’s State Trooper of the Year Award, which will be announced later.
Steppenbacker joined the patrol in 2001 and also served at the post in Mansfield. A graduate of Brunswick High School, he served in the U.S. Air Force before joining the patrol.
Other patrol awards received by Steppenbacker include the Ace award, Criminal Patrol award, Safe Driving award and Field Training Officer award.
He lives in Medina County with his wife and children.
Haymaker said Smolka, 42, was honored with the 2012 Telecommunications Award in recognition of her outstanding service at the post’s Medina Dispatch Center.
The post’s management, dispatchers and communications technicians chose Smolka for the recognition based on her technical knowledge, ability, enthusiastic work attitude, teamwork and prompt and courteous response to the public’s requests for information and assistance, Haymaker said.
Smolka joined the patrol in 2000 and served at the Elyria dispatch center prior to coming to Medina. She lives in Cleveland with her children, Rebecca and Justin.
A graduate of Wellington High School, Smolka has earned the award two prior times.