OFFICER AND CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
Each year Light Ohio Blue select both an Officer and Citizen of the year. The honorees are recognized at the yearly campaign kick off event.
The below honorees have demonstrated great leadership within their community and organizations, not only furthering the Light Ohio Blue campaign but in their daily devotion to make their communities better.
The honorees have given much of their time and energy to spread the Light Ohio Blue campaign. Please join everyone in the Light Ohio Blue campaign with a sincere thank you.
2021 Peter Tobin Lifetime Law Enforcement Achievement Award
“ICON of Law Enforcement”
US Marshal Peter Tobin has been an institution in Central Ohio Law Enforcement for decades. He has never shied away from making difficult decisions or from leading from the front and has always kept the best interests of the citizens and his officers at the forefront. His name, when spoken by officers no matter how many years they have put into the law enforcement vocation, brings out reverence.
In 1971 Marshal Tobin started his law enforcement career with the Columbus Division of Police, rising through the ranks retiring as Lieutenant in 1994. He was an original member of the CPD SWAT team and later commanded it as their Lieutenant. His exploits even had him featured on the TOP COPS national television show.
When he retired in 1994 he just changed badges to be the Chief of Powell Ohio until accepting a position with BCI as the Deputy Director overseeing the Narcotics Division from 1995 until 2004.
In 2006 Marshal Tobin became the chief of London Ohio until 2009 when he was appointed as the Superintendent of BCI.
In 2013, Marshal Tobin was appointed by President Obama to be the US Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio and in 2017 was kept in the position by President Trump.
2021 Blue Crier
Lt. Tiffiany Meeks
Lt. Tiffiany Meeks is a US Army Veteran and a graduate from Hocking College. She resides in Central Ohio with her husband and daughter. Her hometown is Portsmouth Ohio.
Lt. Meeks is the person everyone turns to when they need help. She is never one not to offer a helping hand or a word of encouragement. She gives freely of her time to help no matter the situation. She has been instrumental in building bridges of trust and transparency with law enforcement and the communities across the state.
Lt. Meeks has helped expand Operation Santa Sleigh from in Columbus to across the state so every children’s hospital and Veterans Home and Hospital are visited on December 23rd by first responders to share holiday wishes.
2021 Citizen of the Year
Jessica Davis is a part of the Bridge the Gap organization created by a fine young man named Markel Davis. Markel wanted to show his support to our Law Enforcement officers by ensuring they were well fed during the protests last summer. Markel worked hard to feed 100s of officers and guardsmen and women over the course of the summer making a substantial and positive impact on the morale of our brother and sisters in blue. This devotion carried on into the winter when bridge the gap spent Christmas Eve compiling meals for our sworn and civilian law enforcement personnel who worked the holidays.
Now, Markel did not do all of this alone. Behind every great young man or woman is a strong parent. One of those parents for Markel is his mother, Jessica. Jessica has been behind the scenes helping Markel the whole way. Devoting her time and energy to help Markel achieve his dream of one day becoming a Police Officer and until he can achieve that dream; helping him support the profession he aspires to one day fulfill. Jessica is the mother of four young boys with Markel being the oldest. Jessica has made it her goal for her boys to have a relationship with first responders, especially with the police because she wanted them to know police are people just like us & they are here to help us. She would explain to her boys how important it is to follow the rules & law, because there are consequences for our behavior and she started this all at a young age. It is evident she had succeeded in her goal with the fine young man Markel has become as well as his younger brothers.
2021 Officer of the Year
Adam Beach is a 1995 graduate of Reynoldsburg HS and a 1999 graduate of OPOTA. Detective Beach is a married father of two. Detective Beach has worked for several agencies before finding his home with Licking County Sheriff’s Office. He is currently assigned to the detective bureau.
His Sheriff and Captain described Adam as someone with a heart of gold and always gives 100 % no matter the case. He has taken it upon himself to be directly involved with a family who lost their father in the line of duty even though the officer wasn’t with the sheriff’s office. He gives of his own time freely and is only a phone call away whenever anyone needs a helping hand no matter if it’s a citizen or a fellow law enforcement officer.
This is just one of many examples of why Detective Beach has been selected as the 2021 law enforcement officer of the year.
2020 Blue Crier
Lt. Steve Saunders was able to rally Cincinnati’s community and its law enforcement in making the Cincinnati region glow blue for the 2019 campaign. He has continued in supporting not only LOB, but also his agency and his community by keeping the citizens of Cincinnati informed of a wide range of issues as serving as the Cincinnati Police Department’s Public Information Officer.
This year is no different. Lt. Saunders has been instrumental in helping grow the Light Ohio Blue campaign across the state. His leadership and expertise continues to be invaluable to the Light Ohio Blue campaign.
2020 Citizen of the Year
Chris Avondet – is the Territory Manager & Vice President of Lamar Advertising Company in Columbus, OH.
Chris has spearheaded growing the Light Ohio Blue campaign from Central Ohio to the rest of Ohio by using Lamar Advertising digital media billboards. These billboards in communities across the Buckeye State have served not only as a reminder of support to our State’s law enforcement officers while they protect our communities, but as a way to bring many more citizens into the LOB family.
Chris, his wife Molly, and their 3 boys (Finn, Gavin, & Owen) reside in Lewis Center.
2020 Officer of the Year
Mark Elliott has been a member of the Marion Ohio Police Department since 2002 and was promoted to Lieutenant in 2015. Lt. Elliott has been active with the Light Ohio Blue campaign and has personally undertaken in making the Marion region glow blue in support of law enforcement personnel across the Buckeye State. Mark’s passion to honor his fallen colleagues and their surviving family is evident in the great lengths he takes to keep their memory and sacrifices alive.
But he doesn’t do it alone. His secret weapon is his furry K-9 partner Six. These two make an unbeatable combination and Mark displays the best the law enforcement vocation has to offer and is evidenced by his professionalism and compassion he displays.
For the past 18 years, he has served Marion as a patrol officer, a Detective assigned to the county wide drug task force, a member of the city special response team, and a K-9 handler.
2019 Officer of the Year
Nate Coffield has been a part of the Light Ohio Blue campaign for the last three years. His work on a multitude of videos have been a big reason for the campaign’s continued growth in Central Ohio, and now statewide.
Nate is passionate about law enforcement and serving his community. He began in 2006 as a police explorer for the Columbus Division of Police. In 2011 he accepted a position with the division as a 911 Emergency Dispatcher. He has been a mentor and leader inside and outside of the communications bureau.
He serves as a Communications Training Officer and the Lead Classroom Instructor instructing the last 16 new communications officers training programs. He was recognized as the civilian of the quarter for the second quarter of 2019. Nate has funneled his passion and knowledge into several public service videos for the division, one of which has over 23 million views.
2019 Citizen of the Year
Jim Wolf a Columbus native, was born in 1952 and grew up on the south side. One of 10 kids, Jim and his oldest brother Mike began working with sheet metal as a side job in a garage on the south end of Columbus in 1972.
In 2014 Jim created a memorial at the Columbus police academy to honor the fallen officers from the Columbus Division of police.
Jim has been married to Donna Wolf for 41 years. He has three boys Mike, Dan and Pat.
2018 Citizen of the Year
Steve Sutton – Raised in Columbus OH, graduated from BGSU in 1979 majoring in Accounting/Finance. He received an MBA degree from Xavier University in 1985. Steve worked for 14 years in the areas of Inventory Mgmt, Purchasing, Administration, and Product Mgmt. Since 1994, Steve has owned the Batteries Plus Bulbs locations (currently 6) in the central OH area, along with his business partner and wife Chris Sutton. He works primarily in the Commercial Sales part of the business, and is looking forward to his upcoming retirement in December 2019.
2018 Officer of the Year
Renae Rice has been a police officer for over 22 years. She has been with the Dublin Police Department since 1999. She was promoted to Cpl. In 2003 and Sergeant in 2015. Sgt. Rice has been a field training officer, managed the Dublin Citizens Police Academy, and started the Light Ohio blue campaign in Dublin. She is currently assigned to 3rd shift patrol and oversees the department’s bicycle unit.
2017 Officer of the Year
Sgt. Joe Curmode Jr.
Joe Curmode is a Sergeant on the Columbus Division of Police. He was hired 11/18/1984 and held assignments as an Officer in the in the Patrol and Narcotics Bureaus. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant 08/15/1993, and held assignments in the Patrol and Traffic Bureaus. He has been assigned to the Traffic Bureau’s Motorcycle Unit since 01/18/2004. His wife Suzanne retired from the Columbus Division of Police as a Police Commander 04/2018. Their son Joe has been a Columbus Police Officer since 07/06/2015 and is currently assigned to the Patrol Bureau.
Sgt. Curmode is an active member of The Grand Lodge of Ohio Free and Accepted Masons, Lithopolis Lodge #169. He is also is a member of the National Eagle Scout Association, the Columbus Landmark Foundation and the Columbus Historical Society.
2017 Citizen of the Year
Lisa Defendiefer currently serves as the deputy director of operations and advocacy for the downtown Columbus special improvement districts (SIDs) where she has worked for over 18 years.
Ms. Defendiefer oversees a collaborative effort to prevent crime, eliminate disorder, and provide safety services for downtown employees, residents, and visitors. In her role, she works with the Columbus Division of Police, SID safety “ambassadors” and outreach specialists, special duty police officers, social service providers, private security, prosecutors, court personnel, judges, and others to address issues effectively and holistically.
Additionally, Ms. Defendiefer manages the SIDs’ contracts for supplemental cleaning, safety and landscaping services, manages communications with property owners, documents the performance of the SIDs and advocates for adequate community support in various areas.
Ms. Defendiefer has spent over 20 years in the non-profit sector, many of which have been in the mental health and substance abuse fields. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the College of Wooster and a master’s degree in Urban Planning, Development, and Design from Cleveland State University.
2016 Citizen of the Year
Chris Wilson is a security industry professional that is celebrating 19th year in the Industry on the Integrator side of the business. Service driven, performance-focused that has been building customer relationships both directly and indirectly for over 33 years. Board Member & Volunteer of both Central Ohio Crime Stoppers and the Columbus Chapter of ASIS, International. Newsletter Editor for both organizations. Former elected Chair and Vice Chair with ASIS Columbus. Proud supporter of the Light Blue Campaigns for the past 3 years! Not only featured articles in both organization’s newsletters, but also initiated a light bulb donation to ASIS Columbus Chapter Members, so they could also light their porches blue!
2016 Officer of the Year
Alex Behnen For 28 years, Commander Alex Behnen has served the citizens of Columbus. After graduating from the Columbus Division of Police Training Academy in 1991, Alex was assigned to foot patrol on the south side of Columbus. Due to the extensive personal interaction with the residents on his beat, he views this as one of his best assignments of his career. Upon his promotion to sergeant in 1996, Alex was assigned to a patrol assignment on the near east side and the Linden neighborhood. Before his promotion to lieutenant, he also held assignments in the Detective Bureau, Community Liaison Section, Training Bureau and Internal Affairs. In 2007, Alex was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to the Patrol North Subdivision.
As lieutenant, Alex held assignments in the Training Bureau, Communications Bureau, and Professional Standards Bureau. In 2013, Alex was promoted to his current rank of commander and assigned to the Communications Bureau. In 2017, he was transferred to his current assignment in the Special Victims Bureau. The Special Victims Bureau investigates sexual assaults, domestic violence, physical abuse and sexual assaults of children, missing persons, and cases involving exploited children.
Commander Behnen earned a Bachelor of Social Work from Capital University in 2005. He is a graduate of the Police Executive Leadership College and FBI National Academy. Away from workIn his free time, Commander Behnen spending time with his family and fishing.