By Aileen Goldstein
Lt. Joe Babkiewicz is many things.
He is a law enforcement officer, a former Marine, first baseman on his softball team and a coach for his son’s traveling basketball team.
Recently, he was also named a recipient of the International Association of Police Chiefs’ 40 Under 40 awards.
The award recognizes law enforcement professionals under the age of 40 from around the world that demonstrate leadership and exemplify a commitment to their profession.
“I can’t express how proud I am of Lt. Babkiewicz for achieving this honor. To be selected of only 40 in the world tells you how lucky we are to have him here in Bluffton,” said Bluffton Police Chief Joey Reynolds.
An application and letter of recommendation were submitted to the awards committee. Winners were then selected based on complying with the age and employment requirements (must be between 18 and 39 years of age and must be employed by a federal, state, local or tribal law enforcement agency), demonstrates values and commitment to law enforcement and has a capacity for leadership.
After serving as a Marine for five years, Babkiewicz knew what his next step was.
“I wanted to be a part of an organization where people were close knit, still helping people. I knew I could find that in law enforcement,” he said.
He began as a police officer in Connecticut with the K-9 unit, and after helping several friends move to the Lowcountry, he realized it was where he wanted to be, too. Babkiewicz joined the Bluffton Police Department in 2008.
He said his favorite part of the job is working with his fellow officers.
“I have a special group of officers and sergeants I get to work with every day,” he said. “I’m surrounded by good people. This award is for me, but it truly is because of the work they do.”
Outside of work, Babkiewicz spends his time coaching a traveling basketball team, the Bluffton Bulls.
“I love reaching out to the kids,” he said. “I started coaching because I wanted these kids to see police officers in a different light then what they see on television. It also lets them see there is a lighter side to law enforcement.”
In October, Babkiewicz will travel to San Diego for the International Association of Police Chiefs annual conference to receive his award. He’s looking forward to meeting the other recipients.
As far as his future, Babkiewicz wants to remain part of the Bluffton community family. “I really like it here and I want to be a part of Bluffton for a long time,” he said.
Top photo: Bluffton Lt. Joe Babkiewicz has been named a top law enforcement officer by a international organization.