Citing her work on a high profile, difficult and time-consuming case, the Craig Police Department has named a veteran investigator as its 2007 employee of the year.
Detective Jen Kenney, who's been with the Police Department since 2000, won the award based on her work in the Cynthia Hankins disappearance and homicide investigation. Hankins's husband, Terry Hankins, has been charged in the 14th Judicial District with his wife's murder; he has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a December jury trial.
"Detective Kenney was nominated by several of her co-workers for her work and dedication on a missing person-homicide case," the Police Department reported in a news release. "She committed numerous hours to the investigation, which resulted in securing an arrest warrant for the suspect and recovering the victim's body from a remote location in northern Moffat County.
"What didn't stand out is the compassion shown by Detective Kenney, who spent hours communicating and working with the victim's family. Her commitment to assuring that the family was kept informed, even of the greatest news, was extraordinary."
Kenney, 31, has been a department detective since 2005. She said the award is special to her, considering whom it came from.
"It was a really nice compliment, especially coming from my peers," Kenney said.
Kenney has worked in several roles with the department. She began as a patrol officer and later for what was then known as the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotic Enforcement Team, now the All Crimes Enforcement Team.
She was a School Resource Officer before transferring to investigations.
Currently the only department detective, Kenney said variety and the mental challenge investigations demand are alluring parts of the job.
"You have to think through it," she said. "You have a lot to do, a lot more choices. : You have to go in with an open mind. When you're handed a case, you can't make any assumptions.
"You can make anything fit what you want to believe, but you have to let the evidence tell you what really happened."
The Police Department reported that Kenney's "actions truly reflect the department's core values of integrity, respect, service and integrity."
"Her commitment to the community and her dedication to victims is a tribute to her professionalism," the department reported in the news release.
Kenney said treating victims and victims' families with respect is important to her.
"It's all in how you treat people," she said. "If you treat people with respect, they'll respect you. : Just because you carry a badge and gun doesn't mean you're any better than they are."
Police Chief Walt Vanatta described the Hankins' case as an "incredibly difficult task in an incredibly difficult time for the family." Kenney followed the case with tenacity and was considerate of Cynthia Hankins' family along the way, he said.
Her work and how she goes about it is what the Police Department has grown to expect of Kenney.
"She's developed her skills over the time she's been here to become an excellent officer and investigator," Vanatta said. "She has a very strong commitment to getting victims fair treatment, and compassionate treatment."
Joshua Roberts can be reached at 875-1791, or firstname.lastname@example.org.