The Citizens Appreciate Public Safety (CAPS) virtual ceremony honors the winners of the annual Naperville Fire Department CAPS Awards.
The 32-minute event recognizes nine members of the Naperville Fire Department who provided exemplary service to the community in the last year and reveals the recipient of CAPS board’s George Winckler Award.
“Due to the pandemic, we have moved to this virtual format for our 2020 Naperville Fire Department CAPS Award presentations. Given the past year we have had, now more than ever, it’s critical that we let our first responders know how much we appreciate them and recognize their efforts, even if we can’t do it in person,” said Wes Wernette, Chairman of the Board, CAPS.
What is CAPS?
Citizens Appreciate Public Safety (CAPS) is a Naperville community group that recognizes Fire and Police Department personnel for their contributions to the City.
The 2020 CAPS recipients are Firefighter/Paramedic John Halgren and Ryan Cowhey, Fire Marshal Scott Scheller, Assistant Fire Marshal Ben DeAnda, Inspector Mike Kokocinski, and Administrative Assistant Cheryl Johnson, former Bureau Chief Jim Kubinski, Public Education Specialist Soraya McLaughlin, and Captain Rick Zakaras.
“Captain Zakaras is also the recipient of the CAPS Board’s highest honor for firefighters, the George Winckler Award. This award is named after a beloved Naperville firefighter known for his selfless attitude and giving spirit. Lt. Winckler suffered a fatal heart attack during a training exercise in 1991 but is remembered as one of the most honorable persons to ever serve on the Naperville Fire Department,” said a press release.
Zakaras is an over 30-year veteran of the department, and has successfully helped run one of the only permanent Household Hazardous Waste sites in the state.
The virtual ceremony was dedicated to former Naperville City Councilman Dave Wentz, who died suddenly on January 4, 2021 at the age of 57. Wentz was a member of CAPS for nine years, serving as chairman for three.
Seeking Nominations for NPD
CAPS is seeking nominations for the Naperville Police Department for a similar recognition program in the spring. Community members can submit their nominations on Citizens Appreciate Public Safety’s website.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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