Father and son receive ‘Officer of the Year’ awards

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MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — Two officers are being recognized for their service. They also just happen to be father and son – and it’s somewhat of a miracle that one of them is here after a battle with cancer and COVID-19.

It’s not every year that two officers are chosen for this award, but it doesn’t take long to realize why their names were at the top of the list.

“To this day, there’s never been a day that I haven’t looked forward to actually look forward to going to work,” said Mattoon Police Captain Ray Hall.

That’s a good thing, because Hall is rounding out 30 years with the department. The captain is one of two chosen for the Officer of the Year Award. The other winner is his son, Brett.

“I was very humbled that… everyone on this department deserves that award. We all go out, we all do the same job,” said Brett. He joined the department four years ago and was inspired by his father’s legacy. “Just seeing what he does… the difference that he makes in our community.”

Ray plans to retire in March, but there was a time when he wasn’t sure he’d get to that day. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2019.

“There was a couple times that it got real scary,” said Brett.

“I thought, man, I wanna beat this. I wanna do my best to retire on my own terms. I didn’t want cancer to dictate my own terms for retirement,” said Ray.

He beat cancer and returned to duty, but shortly after that tested positive for COVID-19.

“My immune system… it took a toll with all the cancer and all the treatments and everything,” said Ray. He’s still recovering, but hopes to come back for a while before retirement. Brett says he’s more than ready to carry on his father’s name, although he knows he has some big shoes to fill.

“He made a name for himself here in Mattoon. It’s… to be able to live up to that and make sure I’m doing as what he did for this community. I’d say there’s a little bit of pressure,” said Brett.

Mattoon Police Jason Taylor describes both Ray and Brett as “exemplary public servants”. He added that they also have a knack for detecting criminal activity.

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