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Two local troopers lock up statewide awards

POULSBO — Washington State Patrol Detachment 2 in Poulsbo is used to making a name for itself in the state.

One of Kitsap’s oldest WSP detachments, it is often recognized for its achievements among its peers.

But this month, the group also made history when its own Steven J. Gardner was chosen WSP Trooper of the Year for the second time in his career and James R. Mjor was named WSP Certified Technical Specialist Trooper of the Year. Sgt. Ron Mead of the WSP Field Operations Bureau explained that this may be the first time any WSP trooper received Trooper of the Year twice and is the first time in WSP history that two from the same detachment have taken top honors in the state in one year.

“These are relatively prestigious awards. For any trooper to get it once in a career is a reflection of their caliber as a state trooper they are,” Mead commented. “To have two awarded really reflects well on their peer group. Nobody can achieve these awards by themselves.”

Gardner transferred to Kelso last week to serve as the detachment’s narcotics K-9 head but had previously lived in North Kitsap. He was chosen out of approximately 1,000 WSP employees statewide who were eligible for the honor. The award recognizes a trooper’s overall performance. Gardner has worked for the WSP since 1997, all of those years with the Poulsbo detachment.

“Steve certainly is a hard-charging, honest, hard working and well-rounded trooper,” Mead said. “He’s always willing to assist the public and outside agencies. A truly outstanding trooper.”

Mjor is an active-duty U.S. Navy Seal who lives in Bremerton and was recently activated to serve in the war in Iraq. He is scheduled to return to the Poulsbo WSP office sometime around March 2005. Mead explained that the award Mjor received recognizes a select group for their investigative capabilities. Out of 684 line troopers in Washington, only about 120 are technical collision specialists. The profession investigates complex traffic collisions, including fatality and felony cases. Mjor has been with the state patrol nearly four years, all of those at the Poulsbo office, and worked as a technical specialist for about two years.

“He’s fairly new to this, so for him to excel in the collision investigation field like he has and to receive this award among all his peers is a reflection of his skills,” Mead commented.

Since its inception, WSP Detachment 2 has been a highly-awarded group. Mead, who has been with the unit 18 years, said the office has been named detachment of the year several times and is about to crown its sixth year in a row as having the top DUI enforcement trooper in the state. Mead said he doesn’t know exactly what makes such a winning combination, although he credits the detachment as a whole for all the awards — even the individual ones.

“They work hard. They work well together. They are very tight and have a lot of camaraderie but they also have fun,” Mead said. “I think those are all important.”

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