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Olivet College’s 21st annual Leadership for Individual and Social Responsibility Awards Dinner will be held on Wednesday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Country Club of Lansing. The 2017 honorees are leaders in their chosen professions and reflect the college’s vision of Education for Individual and Social Responsibility. Jim Blocker, Battle Creek police chief, Rina Risper, owner and publisher of The New Citizens Press, and Ric Walton, president of Walton Insurance Agency, are celebrated for bettering the communities they live in and encouraging others to do the same.

Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker is recognized for his commitment to public safety and exemplary leadership. Blocker’s personal mission is to serve and protect others. In his current roles as chief of police for the Battle Creek Police Department (BCPD) and National Guardsman, he’s doing just that.

Blocker has served as police chief since February of 2014 and provides the critical leadership of all law enforcement activities in the City of Battle Creek and Bedford Township, an area of 65 miles. He leads a department of nearly 150 sworn police and support personnel. Prior to being named 18th chief of police, Blocker served in various other roles within the BCPD for 20 years including patrol officer, community police officer, SWAT team member, detective and executive officer.

In addition, Blocker retains the rank of major in the U.S. Army, serving in the Michigan Army National Guard as provost marshal for Camp Grayling. He has completed multiple tours of duty, including two combat tours, in South America, Egypt, Latvia, Iraq and Afghanistan, earning two Bronze Star medals, two Army Commendation medals, three Army Achievement medals, the NATO Ribbon and Combat Action Badge.

Blocker leads by the simple expression, borrowed from the U.S. Army, “Be, Know and Do.” He defines it as being present, capable, prepared and ready to learn, with the willingness to step in and always figure it out, no matter what “it” may be. He encourages his BCPD team to use this model when on the job.

“My experiences growing up, becoming a police officer and military Army officer have provided me with exceptional life experiences, which shaped who I am today,” explained Blocker. “There was a time I would micro-manage, but I learned to trust. A time that I would get frustrated first, but have learned to be patient, knowing the problem may have been me. I would rush to answer and solve problems, when I should have listened and encouraged a recommendation. I have learned that my success and that of my people depends largely on being the master of obvious and mundane things, not the magical, obscure, or breakthrough ideas or methods. Small wins are better than the big ones, if this allows my people to develop and get better.”

While Blocker strives to provide safety in the City of Battle Creek every day, he is also thinking ahead to the next generation of law enforcement officers. In 2016, Blocker played an instrumental role in the BCPD entering a partnership with the Calhoun County Prosecutor and Olivet College Criminal Justice Department to launch the cold case course at Olivet. Since then, students have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Blocker and his team to reinvestigate decades-old cold cases.

Blocker currently serves as the vice chair of the board for the Battle Creek Family YMCA. While he recognizes that readiness and physical fitness go hand in hand, the Y is more than just a health gym. It serves as an outlet to bring the community together, a hub for English as a Second Language and General Education Development classes, as well as a safe space for kids to participate in recreational activities, such as the Learn to Swim program with over 120 participants each year.

In addition, Blocker serves as vice chair for the Calhoun County Community Mental Health System of Summit Point. In this role, Blocker collaborates with mental healthcare providers to establish programs aimed to aid those struggling with addictions and other diseases or illnesses. For example, the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Bronson Battle Creek Health System and BCPD recently opened the Recovery Center for opioid addictions.

Blocker uses this mantra to define what effective leadership is to him:

Loyalty-True to one self, character is virtue in action.
Duty-Obligation and commitment to an end, an extension of your character.
Respect-The ability to listen, understand (equity) and respond with empathy and dignity.
Selfless Service-Commitment to be a scholar, warrior and leader, despite the cost.
Honor-Acknowledging the impact of personal ethics is a day by day exercise, with lifelong ramifications.
Integrity-Habitual acts of morale goodness.
Personal Courage-Your character revealing moments.

Blocker earned a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree from Cornerstone College. He is a graduate of several U.S. Army command courses, such as the Red Team Leaders Course and the Senior Management Institute for Police – Police Executive Research Forum.

Tickets to the Leadership for Individual and Social Responsibility Awards Dinner are $75, which includes a $40 tax deductible donation to Olivet College. For more information, contact Carol Flanigan, senior director of annual giving and donor services, at 269.749.7625 or cflanigan@olivetcollege.edu.

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