by The City of Wyoming
In a ceremony held last Thursday at the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, Jason Caster was named Officer of the Year, while Brian Ilbrink was recognized as Firefighter of the Year and Terra Wesseldyk was honored as Civilian of the Year. Lt. Kirt Zuiderveen received the Chief’s Award of Professional Excellence. The awards were presented by Public Safety Director James Carmody during the annual Employee Recognition Ceremony.
Caster has been with the department for 17 years, serving as a patrol officer, detective and community policing officer. He has played a key role in helping to develop several community and business groups within the City of Wyoming.
“Jason fosters and maintains quality working relationships with the various units within this department,” Carmody said. “He is an example of what a law enforcement officer in the 21st Century should look like and is someone we can all be proud to represent us as our Officer of the Year.
In addition to his duties at the Department of Public Safety, Caster is head coach of the Hudsonville High School hockey team.
“If you spend any time talking to him about this, you will see that he is passionate – not only about hockey but also about mentoring the teenage players entrusted to him. He emphasizes integrity and character in every aspect of his life,” Carmody said.
Carmody opened the ceremony by thanking all of the department’s officers, firefighters and civilian employees for their hard work over the past year.
“Our crime rates continue to remain well below the national averages, our arrests and conviction rates are among the highest in the state for agencies of similar size, and individual employee innovation and determination have allowed the Wyoming Department of Public Safety to continue to provide the highest quality of customer service to the residents whom we serve.”
Ilbrink, an equipment operator, has served on the department for 26 years. In 2014, he took over management of the fire apparatus fleet and in less than one year streamlined the program and optimized the fleet’s capabilities for the fire services’ daily operations.
“Brian’s knowledge of the fleet’s availability and service schedule has greatly assisted the command staff. He has shown his professionalism, dedication and desire to make the apparatus of the City’s fire services the best it can be,” Carmody said.
Wesseldyk, a forensic supervisor, has been with the department for two years. In selecting her as 2015 Civilian of the Year, a peer panel noted that Wesseldyk’s work has transformed the department’s Forensic Support Unit into an even better and more relevant nearly full-service forensics lab.
“She has brought the unit to higher levels of capabilities and professionalism in the area of latent print recovery and identification, and has led the unit in the procurement and implementation of our own drug testing an analysis laboratory,” the peer panel wrote. “Our forensic capabilities are something to be envied by agencies in our region, and she plays a huge role in that effort.”
Zuiderveen, an 18-year veteran of the department, is commander of the Tactical Arrest and Confrontation Team, or TACT. He was recognized for establishing the core concepts behind the department’s Employee Wellness Program, which was implemented last year. In October, 27 police officers attended and completed the department’s inaugural Officer Wellness physical fitness self-assessment.
“Lieutenant Zuiderveen has defined his legacy to this department by creating an environment that will provide tremendous personal benefits for those officers who serve today as well as for those officers yet to come,” Carmody said. “No other effort could have been more meaningful than that of providing the environment for a healthier, happier and more spiritually grounded work force that will last for decades.”
Other employees were recognized during the ceremony, including:
• Brian Kamstra, who was promoted to fire lieutenant
• Tim Pols, who was promoted to police lieutenant
• Mark Easterly, who was promoted to police lieutenant
• Rob Becker, who was sworn in as a police officer
For more information, call the City of Wyoming at 530-7272 or visit the City website at www.wyomingmi.gov. Follow the City on Twitter @WyomingCityHall and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CityofWyoming.