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State Police Employees Honored for Dedication and Service
February 07, 2024
Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Col. James F. Grady II today recognized D/Sgt. Ian Fields as the 2023 Dr. Carl A. Gerstacker Trooper of the Year, MC Ofcr. Joshua Roll as the 2023 Motor Carrier Officer of the Year, Mr. Nicholas Dowker as the 2023 Floyd R. Bell Jr. Civilian of the Year and F/Lt. Robert Young, Ret. as the 2023 Ernest W. Banning Memorial Retiree of the Year. The department’s highest recognition, the Valor Award, was also presented to four MSP members during a special ceremony held in East Lansing.
“Today’s ceremony highlights the dedication our members have to serving the residents of Michigan with excellence and integrity,” said Grady. “I am extremely proud to work alongside all the department members who were recognized today as we continue our important work of helping to build a Michigan where everyone feels safe and secure.”
Trooper of the Year
D/Sgt. Ian Fields, now assigned to the Southwest Enforcement Team, was recognized as the 2023 Trooper of the Year. When nominated and selected, he was serving on the Fifth District Crime Prevention Squad as a sergeant. The Gerstacker Trooper of the Year Award recognizes the MSP trooper or sergeant who symbolizes outstanding professional ethics, dedication to duty and a concern for giving back to their community. The late Dr. Carl A. Gerstacker, former chairman of Dow Chemical Company, created the award in 1961.
Though Fields was a supervisor, he took great pride in also being an active member of the team and working to make his community safer. Notably, one traffic stop he conducted netted 20 stolen firearms and other interactions resulted in large seizures of illegal drugs.
His team’s preparedness and mental well-being was always a priority, as was their role in maintaining positive police and community relations.
Fields never missed an opportunity to attend and participate in outreach events like National Night Out, local football and basketball games and Boys & Girls Club gatherings. He led an effort that raised more than $1,000 to purchase and donate school supplies, collected bike helmets for kids in need, and purchased and donated over $500 worth of baseball equipment to the local Little League.
Fields enlisted with the MSP in 2012, graduating as a member of the 123rd Trooper Recruit School. He is assigned to the Southwest Enforcement Team and previously served on the Fifth District Crime Prevention Squad, Fifth District Hometown Security Team and at the Wayland Post as a trooper and canine handler.
Motor Carrier Officer of the Year
MC Ofcr. Joshua Roll, of the Cadillac Post, was named the 2023 Motor Carrier Officer of the Year. The Motor Carrier Officer of the Year Award recognizes the MSP motor carrier officer who symbolizes outstanding professional ethics, dedication to duty and concern for giving back to their community.
Roll serves as a field training officer, in addition to his daily duties as a motor carrier officer and is known to coworkers as a model representative of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division.
In a one-year period, he completed 347 vehicle safety inspections, seeking out overweight vehicles that pose a danger to traffic safety.
Roll is passionate about sharing information that helps improve commercial vehicle safety, which benefits all drivers on the road, and he is routinely called on by coworkers and industry professionals for his expertise.
In his community, Roll is equally as giving of his time. He is a volunteer coach for children and adults confined to wheelchairs, assisting them with a special chair to ski down the hills at his local ski resort. Additionally, he allows local beekeepers to use his property so they can have sustainable hives.
Roll enlisted with the MSP in 2005, graduating as a member of the 15th Motor Carrier Officer Recruit School. Prior to serving at the Cadillac Post, Roll was assigned to the former Coldwater Post.
Civilian of the Year
Mr. Nicholas Dowker of the Criminal Justice Information Center was named the 2023 Civilian of the Year. The MSP Civilian of the Year Award is named in honor of the late Floyd R. Bell Jr., a 42-year employee of the MSP, who continuously demonstrated commitment and dedication to the department and his community.
Dowker serves as the department’s Data Integrity Specialist, developing and implementing standards and procedures for an analytics platform that is used to create data dashboards.
He consistently goes above and beyond, recently taking on a supervisory role while his manager was away for an extended period.
Dowker’s ultimate career goal was to become a MSP trooper. He joined the 139th Trooper Recruit School in 2021 and was excelling until an injury prevented him from continuing and joining another class in the future. He turned that setback into an opportunity to focus on a civilian career with the MSP where he performed so well that he quickly promoted.
He is an exemplary role model in his community too, serving as a coach and mentor to his daughters’ soccer teams and participating in and organizing toy and food drives.
Dowker joined the MSP in 2018 and previously served as a student assistant.
Retiree of the Year
F/Lt. Robert Young, Ret. was named the 2023 Retiree of the Year. The MSP Retiree of the Year Award is named in memory of Ernest Banning, whose career with the department spanned nearly 50 years.
Young retired from the department in 2010 after 33 years of distinguished service. In his last position, he served as commander of Headquarters’ Field Inspections in what was then called the Field Services Bureau.
He went on to continue his policing career as Chief of Police for the City of Williamston over a span of 10 years and recently returned as Interim Chief to assist city leaders in selecting the next chief.
Young is a board member for the Michigan Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates, as well as the national organization’s charitable foundation and previously served as an advisory board member for two universities with criminal justice programs and on the Mid‐Michigan Chapter of the American Red Cross Board of Directors.
He is active in his church, the River Terrace Christian Reformed Church, previously serving as Chairman for the Council, and is currently an advisor for church security.
Young joined the MSP in 1977, graduating as a member of the 92nd Trooper Recruit School.
Sgt. Robert Bilacic, Ret., Sgt. Michael Thomas, Tpr. Maxwell Prince and Tpr. Blaine Stormer, members of the department’s Emergency Support Team (ES Team), were honored with the Valor Award, the department’s highest recognition. The Valor Award is awarded in exceptional circumstances when a member risks their life in performing a hazardous duty so extraordinary that the exposure to peril is above and beyond the call of duty.
On March 10, 2023, while conducting a high-risk search warrant for a felon at a residence in Detroit, members of the ES Team came under heavy gunfire from the suspect. Thomas and Stormer took direct fire with Thomas shot multiple times. Attempting to end the threat and provide cover for his injured teammate, Prince stepped out of cover and began returning fire, drawing the suspect’s attention and harm on him, leading to Prince also being shot multiple times.
When Prince could no longer remain in the line of fire, Bilacic stepped forward to take his place. As the gunfight continued, and knowing Thomas needed immediate medical attention, Stormer used his body to shield Thomas, allowing him to safely evacuate. Every ES Team member was able to successfully exit
and render aid to their wounded teammates. Because of the brave and selfless actions of Bilacic, Thomas, Prince and Stormer, every team member survived.