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—from Proverbs 28:1, and as it appears on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC
In 2004, the Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) lost one of its own – Special Agent Jay Balchunas. Special Agent Balchunas was shot on October 29, 2004, while working undercover as part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force in Milwaukee. A week after the shooting, Balchunas passed away at the age of 34. Agent Balchunas remains the only DCI agent ever to die in the line of duty. His name is visible on the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC.
On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, Mary Kay and Don Balchunas, Jay’s parents, accepted an award in their son’s honor during a ceremony at the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum and Visitors Center at Pentagon City in Arlington, VA. The service is held annually during National Police Week to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for drug law enforcement. There, they received the DEA Purple Heart Award, which recognizes those who are injured or killed in the line of duty.
Mary Kay and Don Balchunas will also receive the DEA Administrator’s Award of Valor, which is “the second highest award granted for a voluntary act or acts of exceptional heroism while in performance of duty involving risk of personal safety and life” and granted in “only very unusual circumstances.” The Award of Valor, according to the DEA, is given for an act of “personal bravery or outstanding courage, or laudable law enforcement action or service so noteworthy as to clearly distinguish the individual and enhance the prestige of the DEA.”
To learn more about Jay Balchunas and the private scholarship fund that exists in his memory, visit www.jaybalchunas.org.