PORTAGE | Janis Regnier and Donna Bates have a lot in common.
They both have a compassion for serving people. And they both are recipients of the top awards given by the Portage Police Department in 2012.
Regnier, a corporal in the detective bureau, was named the Portage Police Officer of the Year by her peers. Bates, a 15-year veteran as both a dispatcher and clerk, has received the Tracy L. Hall Civilian of the Year award.
"I was shocked," Regnier said when she learned she had received the award. I look at what I do as just doing my job. It is very humbling to know that the people I work with acknowledge what I do."
Regnier, a 1986 Hobart High School graduate, joined the department in 1992 as a reserve officer. In 1994 she was hired as a dispatcher and became a sworn officer in 1996. She became a detective in 2007 and is the department's crime scene investigator and works all the department's cases involving children.
Regnier said two television programs inspired her to be a police officer. "Charlie's Angels" showed her "girls could do anything," while "Quincy, M.E." piqued her curiosity and interest in investigation.
Regnier became a crime scene investigator after battling cancer, and, while on light duty, was offered the chance to go to crime scene investigation school.
"I like figuring it out," she said of the challenge of walking into a room, perhaps with a body and some evidence, and figuring out what happened.
Bates, a 1981 Portage High School graduate, has worked for the department for 15 years. Her husband was a reserve officer and she had been a stay-a-home mom and decided to re-enter the work force. He told her there was an opening; she applied and got the job. Bates worked as a dispatcher until the Portage dispatch center merged with the county three years ago.
The award is special, said Bates, because she worked with Tracy Hall, for whom the award is named. Hall was a dispatcher for the department who was killed in 2003 in an accident caused by a drunk driver.
"When you talk about compassion on the job, Tracy had it," Bates said.
Whether as a dispatcher or clerk, Bates said she enjoys the job because she is helping people.
"I love the idea of helping people," she said.