WENATCHEE — Seven of the area’s top law enforcement officers were recognized Wednesday at an annual ceremony.
The Wenatchee Sunrise Lions Club hosted the 27th Peace Officer Appreciation Luncheon at the Wenatchee Convention Center.
The awards honor officers of the year and memorialize officers killed in the line of duty.
Deputy Ernie Senseney, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office
Senseney’s career began in 2010 as a reserve deputy with the sheriff’s office before he became a full-time officer with Quincy Police. He transferred back to Chelan County not long after and has since developed a reputation of being “tough but fair,” said Sheriff Brian Burnett.
Senseney works mostly in the Chelan area and was recently promoted to detective. He also acts as a field-training officer — someone tasked with training new deputies — for the department.
“He goes above and beyond what we would say is the regular call of duty,” Burnett said.
Deputy Gordon Mitchell, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
A relatively new deputy, Mitchell joined the sheriff’s office in 2017 and is one of the department’s leaders in citations and arrests, said Sheriff Kevin Morris.
Mitchell patrols the Bridgeport area, which traditionally yields a low number of felony-level crimes — most are misdemeanors, Morris said. In 2018, Mitchell made 20 felony arrests.
“That’s pretty impressive and just goes to show how hard he works,” Morris said.
Officer Kevin Battis, Wenatchee Police Department
Battis only spent half of 2018 with WPD before he was reassigned to the Columbia River Drug Task Force, but in sixth months of work, he totalled the 10th-highest number of traffic stops for the department that year.
“Imagine what he’d do in a full year,” said Chief Steve Crown.
Battis was sent to the task force with good reason, Crown said, describing him as someone who sets the example for his peers and junior officers.
“Other officers want to have his skillset and so they ask him about it,” Crown said.
Officer Joshua Virnig, East Wenatchee Police Department
Virnig is a second-generation officer with East Wenatchee Police — his father, Chet, served the department for 33 years, said Chief Randy Harrison
In roughly six years as an officer, Virnig has separated himself as a prolific cop.
“Josh Virnig is a very good, proactive police officer,” Harrison said.
In December, he received an award for DUI enforcement and while on his way to the ceremony, arrested a man for DUI.
Trooper Darren Wilkes, Washington State Patrol
Wilkes is “highly revered” in the law enforcement community, said Capt. Rob Huss. Wilkes has been with the State Patrol since 2002 and the Wenatchee detachment for the past 10 years.
In 2018, Wilkes stopped more than 1,400 motorists and, as a certified technical investigator, and logged more than 200 hours investigating collisions.
“What he provides our prosecutors, what he provides families that are the victims of these many crashes, is just absolutely exemplary,” Huss said.
Officer Eric Oswald, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan and Adams counties, Oswald was named Fish & Wildlife’s officer of the year not only for the region, but the state as well.
“He has a keen knack for being in the right place at the right time, and is a very skilled investigator who routinely demonstrates tenacity and persistence in pursuing violators,” said Capt. Mike Jewell.
A sportsman himself, Oswald’s understanding of how recreators use the outdoors helps him in his official duties, Jewell said.
Deputy David Hisey II, Chelan County Regional Justice Center
Few people are suited for a career in corrections, said Director Bill Larson, but Hisey has “greatly excelled” as a corrections officer.
“He’s earned respect not only from his peers but from the inmate population because of the way that he treats people: His professionalism, the manner he performs his duty,” Larson said. “He treats everyone with courtesy, dignity and respect.”
Hisey was hired by the jail in 2007 and currently acts as a field training officer and is a member of a team that escorts inmates from the jail to court appearances and hospital appointments.
An earlier version of this story misidentified Chet Virnig.