Jason Bray and Mark Benaitis joined the Hickory Hills police force in 1997.
These two cops shared another experience at last Thursday’s village board meeting.
Both received promotions and plenty of compliments from their boss — Police Chief Alan Vodicka.
Sgt. Jason Braywas promoted to lieutenant and Officer Mark Benaitis took over his role as sergeant. Also, officer Scott Sodaro was honored for 20 years of service.
“I firmly believe that these two officers will excel in leading our department,” Police Chief Alan Vodicka said of Bray and Beneaitis
Bray is a 17-year veteran of the Hickory Hills Police Department. He joined the department in 1997upon his completion of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.During his tenure, Bray has been a tactical officer, juvenile officer, evidence technician and detective. As a detective, he was assigned to the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force as a lead homicide investigator and was responsible for investigating homicides throughout southwest suburban Cook County. In 2007, he was promoted to sergeant and assigned to supervise the investigation division.
“His personnel file contains an extensive number of commendations and letters of recognition,” Vodicka said.
Benaitisalso began his law enforcement career in 1997 in Hickory Hills. During his tenure, he has held the position of juvenile officer, field training officer, detective, patrol officer in charge and has been assigned to the immigration customs enforcement task force, where his investigations generated significant revenue for the department through forfeiture seizures.
“Along with his partner, [police dog] Oscar, he was part of the first K-9 unit for the Hickory Hills Police Department,” Vodicka said.
Bray and Benaitis received a blessing from the department chaplain upon taking their oaths administered by Ken Fonte, commissioner of the city’s Police and Fire Board.
After the promotions, the department is planning to hire a new recruit by September.
The promotions were not the only thing celebrated on Thursday.
Sodaro was also honored for 20 years of service to the Hickory Hills Police Department.
“During his tenure with the department, he had the greatest impact while assigned to the traffic enforcement division,” Vodicka said. “In this assignment, he took traffic safety to a whole new level by combining programs that emphasized education with enforcement tasks.”
As a result, the police department received numerous awards for traffic safety from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“Along with his (canine) partner, Trustee, they are also widely acclaimed for their community relations initiatives,” Vodicka said.
Over the years, Sodaro and his partner have been a fixture at school, park district and community events. They have been requested to assist other police agencies with safety events and programs. Vodicka said he is proud to have Sodaroas a member of the department.