ALPENA - Michigan State Police has recognized two Alpena Post employees for their dedication to the job, one as trooper of the year and the other as civilian of the year.
Detective Sgt. Jennifer Pintar received the Dr. Carl A. Gerstacker Trooper of the Year Award at a ceremony in Lansing Thursday. She found out she'd received the award back in December, she said, and was honored "and a little bit embarrassed" to be picked from among her many, equally qualified colleagues.
"There's a lot of people in our agency that do amazing things every day," she said. "It's nice to be recognized, but at the same point, I recognize that I work with amazing people that could definitely win this award as well."
Post secretary Teresa Rucinski was awarded in Lansing as well, being named the Floyd R. Bell Jr., Civilian of the Year. She said she's honored and humbled to receive the highest civilian award one can receive from the Michigan State Police.
"Working with MSP is the best job I have ever had," she said. "The camaraderie of the whole MSP family, I've received nothing but positive interaction with all of of the people I have worked with. I so appreciate that."
Pintar has been with MSP since 1996, and was promoted to detective sergeant and transferred to the Alpena Post, according to an MSP release. She and her husband, Mark, have two daughters, and Mark is a sergeant at the West Branch Post.
Of Pintar's many accomplishments since joining the department, she said she's especially proud of her work with children. She is closely involved with the PRIDE program for Iosco County youth, which aims to educate them about the risks of drugs, alcohol and violence. She also has started groups in Iosco and Alcona counties for Rachel's Challenge, a national organization that teaches students to deal with issues using kindness and compassion. This work is part of why she was picked for the award.
As a "big sucker for the underdog," Pintar said she decided a career in law enforcement would give her a way to stand up for victims. By catching criminals, Pintar can help with the healing process by giving the victim justice. She also can provide victims with direction on how to move on.
"I think that's kind of what drew me to this career," she said.
Rucinski has been a secretary for many years, including more than eight with the Alpena Post, she said. Prior to that, she worked for the Michigan Department of Corrections, and changed jobs in 2005 to get back to her home town of Alpena. She and her husband, Gary, have one daughter.
Post Commander First Lt. Mike Hahn said Pintar very much deserves the recognition. She has made an impact on the lives of many young people in Northeast Michigan, and has done a lot of volunteer work on top of her duties as detective.
Rucinski has done plenty to earn the honor as well, Hahn said
"She's an ideal employee, and one of the hardest workers I've ever had the pleasure to supervise," he said. "She saves the taxpayers a lot of money in her diligence and efficiency."