CCPD sergeant recognized
A Cape Coral police sergeant is one of five finalists for the Officer of the Year award.
The Rotary Club of Fort Myers South will honor local law enforcement heroes and celebrate their commitment to the community at the Law and Order Ball on Saturday at the Germain Arena in Estero. A panel of judges selected Cape police Sgt. Jon Kulko as a finalist for the recognition, along with:
* Officer Cassie McHale, of the Fort Myers Police Department
* Detective Michael Cahill, of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office
* Deputy 1st Class Jarrod Cantrell, of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office
* Sgt. James Matthew Chitwood, of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office
The winner will receive a custom-designed piece by Rotarian Mark Loren, of Mark Loren Designs.
“It was an honor to be nominated, but it was shocking I was one of the finalists,” Kulko said.
He added that he does not believe he does anything differently that any other officer.
“I just do my job every day and enjoy it,” he said.
The nominations for Officer of the Year were provided by seven local agencies, including the CCPD, FMPD, LCSO, Sanibel Police Department and Lee County Port Authority Police, as well as the Florida SouthWestern State College Police Department and Florida Gulf Coast University Police Department.
Fourteen nominees were announced before the finalists were reduced to five.
Nominations were based on exceptional achievement on or off duty, consistency going above and beyond the call of duty, serving as a role model and undertaking actions beyond their job duties.
With Kulko, CCPD Detective Christy Jo Ellis and Officer Stephen Cragin were nominated.
“People were excited there were nominees from the department,” he said.
Kulko was nominated by his supervisor, Capt. Kurt Graf.
He noted that he was nominated for the same recognition in 2015.
“I was one of the nominees last year, but I was not a finalist,” Kulko said.
Hired by the Cape police in 2002, he moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to join the agency. Kulko started out on patrol, serving the city’s North District, as well as serving as a field training officer.
“I was on patrol for about seven years,” he said.
In 2009, Kulko was promoted to sergeant. He served on various patrol shifts before moving up to his current position as sergeant of the Traffic Unit’s Special Operations Bureau for the daytime shift.
“Any time the sun’s up, we’re in charge,” Kulko said.
“We focus on safety on the roadways during rush hour – day and night – school traffic during the school year and any other traffic related issues,” he added.
Prior to joining the CCPD, Kulko was employed as a salesman.
“I wanted to be able to help the community and help people and make it a better place and a safer place for everybody,” he said of why he became a police officer.
The transition was comparable as Kulko had prior military experience. Now marking his 30th year with the U.S. Army Reserve, he served active duty for two years in Germany and he was mobilized twice.
As for being a Cape officer, Kulko takes pride in making the community safer.
“It’s just been a privilege for me to do my job here,” he said.
“That’s the most satisfaction I can have,” Kulko added. “It’s wonderful.”
Previously, he was recognized twice by the CCPD as the Officer of the Month for preventing two suicidal people from doing harm to themselves. He also received two Lifesaving Awards at the time.
Proceeds from the gala benefit Rotary and Lee County law enforcement youth programs.
For more information on the event, visit online at: lawandorderball.org/.
The Germain Arena is at 11000 Everblades Parkway in Estero.