When the ten original members of the ITEA began this Association in October 2009, no one expected to see all the progress that has been achieved. The goal was simple – make better truck enforcement officers. Six foundational statements were identified to accomplish the goal: safe roads, one voice, partnership, uniformity, resource and legislation. These ideals were set up to pave the highway leading police officers to a higher level of enforcement quality and to show the trucking industry there was a better way. It was not without purpose. A month earlier, Illinois lost a great truck officer named Glenn Strebel.
Glenn Strebel served on the Barrington Fire Department for many years and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. As a single father, he began to look for ways to supplement his income. Glenn worked his way through the part-time police academy and received his police officer certification and began looking for a part-time career in law enforcement. Eventually, Glenn was hired on the East Dundee Police Department, a small agency in Kane County along the Fox River. It was during this brief tenure from 2006-2009 that Glenn developed an interest in truck enforcement.
For those who knew Glenn, he was the “great guy”. Great attitude. Great heart. Loved his job, his family and wanted to excel in all he did. After his retirement from the Barrington Fire Department, Glenn ran for public office in Barrington where he lived. He wanted to make a difference. Glenn had worked spent a career in public service and had seen it from street. It was time to move up to the front office.
Even though there was no formal association of truck officers at that point, Glenn worked hard to network with other truck officers from nearby communities. He setup roadblocks with the Illinois State Police and IDOT and invited others to come help. He offered to help other truck officers with their roadblocks. The goal was never to assist in the effort to write more tickets, but to learn. He always asked the right questions.
Glenn understood that exposure around commercial vehicles yields more knowledge. He was old enough and wise enough to realize the police, even truck enforcement officers, are paid to serve. No one is being served if he as a police officer is wasting the trucker’s time and the taxpayer’s dime with frivolous enforcement.
Glenn knew it was better to let a wrong truck go when he was unsure of complicated truck laws . He knew it was his job was to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. It was not his job to make a best guess, take a load of money from the trucker and leave them to defend themselves in court. It was better to release a driver and find his evidence, and maybe later write the ticket if need be. He was quality.
Unfortunately, Glenn suffered from a very rare form of cancer. At the young age of 42, his life was cut short. Had Glenn survived, the original ten members of the ITEA would have been eleven. The ITEA is exactly what Glenn would have wanted. He would have served selflessly to lead it. He had an exceptional authority, and he demanded exceptional accountability.
It’s for police officers like Glenn the ITEA was conceptualized. Because of his character, the leadership of the ITEA felt it necessary to seek out and award a police officer each year who models his traits.
The 2014 Glenn Strebel Award will be announced at the 4th Annual ITEA Conference on January 7th, 2015. This is not a “tickets for toasters” award. He who writes the most tickets does not win, nor does the police officer who writes the overweight with the highest fine. Glenn would want to see his name ascribed to an award for the police officer who puts service ahead of self.
The ITEA will accept nominations all year from any police officer, member of the trucking community, local government leader or private citizen. The ITEA Board of Directors (who are not eligible) will look not only at well-rounded enforcement activity, but education efforts and advocacy for their local trucking industry. A litany of prizes will await the winner.
The goal is to do right….right by the reputation of law enforcement. Right by the vital need for a profitable trucking industry in Illinois. Right by the protection of people and property. This is what Glenn would have called for.