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Whitehall detective receives award

A detective with the Whitehall Township Police Department was presented with an award for his service at a luncheon of Lehigh County Chiefs of Police Association held Nov. 12 at DeSales University, Center Valley.

Whitehall Township Chief of Police Michael Marks presented the Police Officer of the Year Award to Detective Corporal Jeffrey Bruchak.

Bruchak has served with the Whitehall Township Police Department for 19 years. During that time, he received numerous commendations, has had many high-profile arrests and has served on the Municipal Emergency Response Team. In addition, he worked with Lehigh County Auto Theft Task Force for eight years.

He has been assigned to Whitehall Police Department’s criminal investigations division since 2016. In the past year, he has focused on special victims’ cases.

“Detective Bruchak is a leader in the department and is always willing to mentor and provide guidance to other officers,” Marks said. “He is a role model for other officers as he continues to perform at the highest levels. Jeff has made quality arrests from homicide to retail theft and everything in between. He serves the department and the county with the utmost integrity, character and accountability.”

Also recognized at the event was Lehigh County Detective Colleen Gilbert, with the district attorney’s domestic violence unit. Gilbert received the 33rd annual Col. John K. Schafer Memorial Award, presented by District Attorney Jim Martin.

The Schafer award is named in honor of a former Pennsylvania State Police commissioner who had a 23-year career with the state police, part of which was with Troop M, Bethlehem. The award presented in Schafer’s name is “given in recognition of exemplary service to law enforcement.”

Gilbert started her career in 1976 at age 19, graduating in the first class of the Philadelphia Police Academy to accept women. She served in Philadelphia until 1981. Gilbert then moved to the Tampa Police Department, where she remained for 15 years.

During her 22-year tenure with the district attorney’s office, she was assigned to the domestic violence unit, where she not only investigates cases but also gives emotional support to victims. In addition, she keeps statistics for the unit, noting the number and type of domestic violence cases in a calendar year, which in 2018 totaled 790.

“Colleen is an integral part of the domestic violence unit,” Martin said. “She has earned the respect of detectives and attorneys alike in our office. In addition, she has assisted countless victims throughout her time with us. Her skill and work ethic are exceptional. I am proud to have had her on our team for the past 22 years.”