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Washington honors 2 police officers

Investigator Brian VanWilligen was presented Officer of the Year by Police Chief Jim Lester on Wednesday. (Caitlin Yamada/The Union)
Investigator Brian VanWilligen was presented Officer of the Year by Police Chief Jim Lester on Wednesday. (Caitlin Yamada/The Union)
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WASHINGTON — The Washington Police Department honored two officers during the City Council meeting Wednesday.

Police Chief Jim Lester said the Washington police officers are some of the best officers he has worked with in his 30 years in law enforcement.

Officer of the Year was awarded to criminal investigator Brian Van Willigen. The following information was presented during the award presentation.

Van Willigen, has been a member of the Washington Police Department since July 2005. He is trained as a Drug Recognition Expert and holds instructor certifications in standardized field sobriety testing and ALICE.

In February 2020, Van Willigen transitioned from patrol into the role of criminal investigator. VanWilligen’s work ethic, drive and attention to detail provides victims with a fair and impartial investigation of their crime.

His investigations in 2020 resulted in multiple felony arrests and convictions, providing both victims and the department confidence that crimes against people are investigated efficiently and professionally.

Lester also presented a commendation to Officer Ethan Hansen. The following information was presented during the award presentation.

On July 6, 2020, Officer Ethan Hansen was on patrol in the city when he investigated thick smoke coming from an area on the west edge of town.

Despite the flames and thick smoke, Officer Hansen’s quick and decisive actions prevented the occupant from becoming engulfed by the fire in a motor vehicle.

Hansen’s professionalism and actions above and beyond the call of duty that afternoon made for an outcome that could have been far more tragic had he not acted without regard for his own personal safety.

Hansen continued his care for the victim following the rescue by maintaining an open airway and providing important emotional support.