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The Park Forest Police Department has a new officer of the year and civilian employee of the year. Park Forest Police Chief Paul Winfrey presented the awards for 2022 to Sergeant Paul Morache and Administrative Assistant Christy Coyle during the Village Board meeting on Feb. 20.
Winfrey said the Civilian Employee of the Year Award honors non-sworn members of the Park Forest Police Department whose roles are vital and help the department function.
This year's recipient, Coyle, has been with the police department for over 20 years. Her day-to-day role consists of preparing paperwork for the court and handling all files related to arrests made in the Village.
"Often finding minor errors or oversights, Christy has the unpopular task of returning paperwork to be corrected," Winfrey said. "While this is sometimes seen as a negative responsibility, her thoroughness greatly aids the Park Forest Police Department to maintain its reputation as one of the most professional agencies in the region and the state."
Winfrey added, "Without the completion of these tasks, the department could not function."
Winfrey also presented the Officer of the Year Award.
Peers vote for the award, which is given to an officer who best exemplifies by their performance the principles and purposes of the law and the Park Forest Police Department.
This year's officer of the year, Morache, has been with the Park Forest Police Department since 2008 and previously served on the South Holland Police Department.
Winfrey said that since Morache joined Park Forest Police, he's been a source of knowledge and information. He added that because of Morache's skillset, he was a part of the Police Department's Investigations Division on three separate occasions - once as a tactical officer, then as a criminal investigator, and most recently as the sergeant of the Investigations Division.
"Since his most recent assignment to the Investigations Division, Sergeant Morache investigated 37 criminal cases, including homicides, criminal sexual assault, armed robberies, and child abuse cases," Winfrey said.
Winfrey added that Morache was instrumental in bringing 15 cases to a successful conclusion and continues investigating the rest. In addition to handling many additional tasks, including training and mentoring new detectives, Winfrey said that Morache is also one of only two Park Forest detectives qualified to be assigned to the South Suburban Major Task Force (SSMTF), where he currently serves as a team member assisting other communities with their most heinous crimes.
Winfrey said that Morache wearing multiple hats and doing an exceptional job in 2022 made him the department's choice for the officer of the year.