By Devese “Dee” Ursery
Collinsville Police Officer Trent Ross has been honored by the Illinois Jaycees as one of Illinois Outstanding Young Persons of the Year.
The Outstanding Young Person of the Year program celebrates and acknowledges young people between the ages of 18 to 40 on a yearly basis who excel in their profession. Ross was acknowledged by CPD as Officer of the Year 2022 and was also honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving with their Hero Award, according to an Illinois Jaycees news release.
“Just to be considered for the Police Officer of the Year Award is an honor within itself, but to win it is pretty special,” Ross said. “We don’t get into this profession for awards, accolades and pats on the back. We get into this to help others the best we can.”
Ross, a 10-year veteran of the Collinsville Police Department, was originally from Decatur and moved to Troy in 2005 in order to attend Triad High School. After high school, Ross earned his Bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration from Western Illinois University. He minored in Fire Science and Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration.
He is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Public Safety Administration from Western Illinois which he will complete in May of this year.
Ross is a decorated canine police officer with the Collinsville Police Department. He spent five years assigned to the Illinois Emergency Alarm System Region eight, Special Response Team as an assistant team leader. He also is a field training officer, drug recognition expert, a forensic phlebotomist and a certified Standardized Field Sobriety instructor for the Collinsville Police Youth Academy.
Ross and his canine partner Rocky, are certified in narcotics detection, tracking handler protection, article searches and suspect apprehension.
Ross said that he was around 15-years old when became interested in law enforcement. He said that his neighbor at the time, Officer Brent Shownes (now Chief) for the Troy Police Department got him into the Police Explorer Program, which introduces young adults to various career opportunities in law enforcement.
“It stuck with me and now I’m doing what I love to do,” said Ross.
According to Ross, Shownes took Ross under his wing to show him the ins-and-outs of what it takes to be a good police officer. He said that he was able to gain valuable experience from the program through training, ride-alongs and other activities which further fueled his hunger to become a police officer.
When asked what is the most important aspect to his job he said, “It’s going in each day to make a positive difference in our community.”
Ross explained that law enforcement is a special profession where officers engage with people at their best, worst and everything in between. He said police have the ability to better or worsen a situation depending on their actions, words and decisions.
“It is important that we always put our best foot forward to provide the best service possible to increase the quality of life and safety of the citizens,” Ross said.
Ross said the best quality a police officer could have is integrity. He said that integrity includes personal values like tolerance, honesty, courage, self-discipline and trustworthiness. He believes these values are vital in law enforcement because he feels the police must protect the public’s trust in their ability to perform their jobs effectively.
Ross is involved in the department’s honor guard, which presents the colors and marches at events like parades, funerals and community functions. He is also an instructor for the Collinsville Police Academy.
Ross is a volunteer with the Special Olympics and has organized several fundraising events like the Polar Plunge and the 5-0 5K donut run/walk. He also is the department’s representative for the Law Enforcement Torch Run and previously served as a state committee member.
The Illinois Jaycees will recognize this year’s honorees of young active citizens at an awards banquet on May 6, at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria.
The event is supported by friends, and employers of the honorees, local Jaycee organizations, Illinois businesses including INB and the Illinois Jaycees Charitable Foundation. Additional information can be found at www.illinoisjaycees.com/toyp-2023.
Ross explained the importance of open dialogue between the police and citizens of the community. He said he loves the fact that he has the opportunity to engage and communicate with so many different people.
“These conversations create a bond between us (the citizens and the police),” Ross said. “We as an agency seek to have a cooperative effort between the police department and citizens to make Collinsville a better place.”