Nampa Optimists honor 3 law men of the year
Three of the Treasure Valley's finest were recognized as law enforcement officers of the year by the Nampa Optimist Club Thursday.
The club honored Idaho State Trooper Gene Wunsch, Canyon County Cpl. Chris Bolyard and Nampa officer Leonard Claunts as part of it's Respect for Law Week.
"It's one of those jobs that can sometimes be thankless," Optimist Club President Mike Gray said. "But they do lots of good things for the community, and it's good to appreciate them."
The officers were nominated by their supervisors.
Idaho State Police Sgt. Dean Matlock said Wunsch has been with the agency for only about a year, but he's already made huge contributions including leading in the number of DUI arrests for the region.
"There wasn't anything Gene didn't do well," Matlock said. "And he does it all while treating the public with respect."
Wunsch, who came to the state police after more than eight years with the Gem County Sheriff's Department, was taken aback with the award.
"It was quite a shock, I just go out and do my job," Wunsch said. "It's an honor to receive, but I don't think I do anything different than the other officers."
"There are 30 people standing behind me who deserve the award as much as I do."
Canyon County Sheriff George Nourse credited Bolyard for how quickly he's excelled in the department. Bolyard joined the sheriff's department in 1994. He's now the liaison officer for the reserve officers program.
"He's one of those people you can watch come into the department and rise to the top like cream on milk," Nourse said. "He's become one of our star players."
Bolyard said the award was a complete surprise.
"I hope I can live up to it," he said.
Bolyard said he came to the department because of it's emphasis on community.
"The department is very community policing oriented, and that attracted my eye," he said. "I enjoy getting out and meeting so many people in the community and being able to help."
Nampa Lt. Rick Wiley and Chief of Police Alan Creech said Claunts is the type of officer who works hard and all too often doesn't get the recognition.
Wiley and Claunts, who joined the department in 1994, has been a great part of the department's patrol division.
Claunts serves as the assistant team leader for the department's tactical team, a position he was recommended for by other officers, many of who had more time with the department.
"He's excelled far beyond his years in tactical training," Wiley said. "He was recommended for this for the great job he does in the patrol division."
"This is a great award," Claunts said. "I really appreciate this. It means a lot to me."
Claunts said everyone at theNampa department has been great to work with.
He joined the department because of it's progressive reputation and for the challenge the job presented.
"There's something different every day," Claunts said.
Reprinted by permission of Idaho Press Tribune Note: article retyped in HTML for better readability.
May 5, 2000 - Page 5a