A pair of local law enforcement officers were recognized Monday for their work in serving victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s deputy Greg Holmlund and Helena police officer John Kaleczyc received the Officer of the Year Award given out by the Helena Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Working Group and The Friendship Center. The awards were presented by Attorney General Tim Fox.
“Every day they’re responding to very tense and very complicated situations, especially in domestic and sexual violence cases,” said Abbie Chermack, interim director for The Friendship Center. “There are high expectations from all the parties involved and sometimes it can be a thankless job.”
The way uniformed officers approach victims plays a critical role, she said, building trust for law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
Fox detailed several statistics, including that one in four women experience domestic violence and 40 percent of women experience physical violence, rape or stalking. The Friendship Center saw more than 3,000 crisis calls last year, he added.
“Domestic violence has a devastating impact on victims, family members and the community at large,” he said, and takes many forms.
Fox praised Kaleczyc, who was not in attendance, and read several statements from those who nominated him. Since joining the force in 2012, he has been nominated for the award three times.
Jaime Gabrielli, a senior crisis response advocate at The Friendship Center, said she looks forward to working with Kaleczyc “because of his trauma informed approach, ability to show compassion to victims and his strong relationship-building skill,” Fox said.
HPD Chief Troy McGee accepted the award on Kaleczyc’s behalf.
Holmlund is a five-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, and colleagues recognized him for going above and beyond in cases of domestic or sexual violence, Fox said. Reading a statement from detective Dan O’Malley, Fox continued, “He understands the people he serves and has the incredible ability to put individuals at ease in almost every situation he encounters."
Holmlund said he was honored by the award and added that many people were also well-deserving.
“We are fortunate in Montana to have a very high level of professionalism and dedication in our law enforcement professionals. They do their work with passion and they do it with a lot of heart that I really appreciate,” Fox said.