Ever since he was a boy, Eric Benedict had wanted to be a law enforcement officer. He's been living that dream the last 14 years as a member of the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office.
And he was recognized Monday as the Leavenworth County Officer of the Year.
He received the honor during an annual Leavenworth County law enforcement awards and memorial ceremony.
Awards were presented to people from various law enforcement agencies in the county including Fort Leavenworth's Directorate of Emergency Services, the VA Police Department, the Tonganoxie Police Department and the Lansing Police Department.
Benedict, who received a couple of other awards Monday night, is a detective with the Sheriff's Office, a position he's held for a little more than a year.
He said he was surprised but definitely grateful for the Officer of the Year award.
Benedict, who's from Tonganoxie, said he likes to help the community. He also said every day is different when working in law enforcement.
"You never know what's going to happen," he said.
The ceremony was organized by the Leavenworth County Law Enforcement Awards Committee. The event was sponsored by the James Taylor Lansing Memorial VFW Post 12003. Other civic groups sponsored individual awards for the ceremony.
Fred Grenier, a member of the awards committee, said the participating law enforcement agencies submitted nominations for various awards. The committee selected the Leavenworth County Officer of the Year based on the nominations. Grenier, who is a lieutenant with the Lansing Police Department, said Benedict's efforts and commitment stood out from the others.
Sheriff Andy Dedeke described Benedict as tenacious and very focused.
"He essentially doesn't let anything get in his way when he's working toward a goal," Dedeke said.
Some of the participating law enforcement agencies recognized their own officers of the year. Alfonso Sanchez was named the Officer of the Year for the Tonganoxie Police Department, and Investigator John D. Holloway was honored as the Officer of the Year for Fort Leavenworth's Directorate of Emergency Services.
This was the 27th year for the annual awards ceremony. This marked the first time the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office has participated in the ceremony in several years. The department stopped participating under previous Sheriff Dave Zoellner.
Dedeke, who took office in January, said the awards ceremony is a "good opportunity to recognize efforts of our officers."