Giving credit to the force

Every year, the Monroe Police Department honors officers and staff that have resolutely gone above and beyond the call of duty, and recognizes them through awards and letters of commendation.

The top honorees for 2015 were acknowledged for their dedication to the community during the Monroe City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 22. Award nominations are submitted by supervisors and peers, forwarded to an awards committee for further review and then sent to Chief Tim Quenzer for final approval.

The 2015 Distinguished Service Award went to Sgt. Brian Johnston, for his impactful work with the Behind the Badge Foundation and service as the organization's president. The 2015 Chief's Award went to administrative manager Sherri Simonson, for her efforts with the New World Systems (NWS) countywide public safety, dispatch and records management system.

The awards were presented by Deputy Chief Ken Ginnard.

Chief's Award

The Chief's Award is given to employees that have demonstrated their commitment to excellence in service and pride in the community, Ginnard said. Simonson was selected for her long-term dedication to the New World project, which has served to enhance public safety on a countywide level.-á -á

Meant to streamline interagency communication and improve efficiency, New World allows data sharing to occur quickly regardless of jurisdictional boundaries. Last October's successful launch of the system was the culmination of many years of concentrated effort by people like Simonson, Ginnard said.

Simonson was a part of the initial team in 2009 that traveled to New World headquarters in Michigan, and conducted a site visit in Illinois to evaluate the system. Over the years, Simonson attended monthly and weekly meetings, taught classes and identified best practices to help smooth the transition. She traveled to Florida, Texas and California for additional training and to learn system upgrades.

Ginnard said the remarkable aspect of Simonson's long-term commitment was that she continued to do her own job, while juggling the myriad added tasks placed on her at the county level.

"Her efforts went well beyond expectations and were especially evident in the smooth transition with Monroe Police Department to this new technology,GÇ¥ Ginnard said.

This year, Simonson will celebrate her 26th year with the Monroe Police Department. She was hired by the department in 1990, working over the years as a clerk, records specialist and administrative assistant to the chief. She joined the investigations team in 2000, where she has served as the administrative manager since 2001.

"It is rare that we have an employee that has influenced such a large project and has been able to help not only our agency, but the other many agencies in our county,GÇ¥ Ginnard said. "She is looked at as an expert and is relied upon by the agencies in Snohomish County. We're very proud of the work that Sherri has done.GÇ¥

Distinguished Service Award

Sgt. Brian Johnston has been with the department since 1984. Over the years, Johnston has worked in patrol and investigations, serving as one of Washington state's first D.A.R.E. officers. He is known throughout the Sky Valley region for his bagpipe playing, regularly performing at the Sultan Veterans Day Celebration and the Sky Valley Relay for Life event.-á

"Sgt. Johnston is being given the Distinguished Service Award for his work with Behind the Badge Foundation and his years of service in this organization as its president,GÇ¥ Ginnard said.

Behind the Badge is a nonprofit dedicated to serving families, communities and agencies of law enforcement officers that have been killed or injured in the line of duty. The foundation is actually the marriage of two organizations; one focused on serving families and communities after a line-of-duty death, and the other was formed to create the state's Law Enforcement Memorial in Olympia.

The memorial is at the state Capitol behind the Temple of Justice, and looks out over Heritage Park and Capital Lake. After its completion in 2006, the organizations merged to form Behind the Badge.-á -á

The foundation's Line of Duty Death Response Team can deploy anywhere in the state in the event an officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. The role of the team is to honor the fallen officer and serve their family, department and community in whatever capacity is needed. They can take the lead, they can fill gaps or they can just be there, in silent support.

Johnston has an incredible heart for honoring officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and serving their family members and communities, Ginnard said.

The sergeant has always credited the Monroe Police Department for allowing him the latitude to perform his duties as the organization's president, enabling him to be of service throughout the entire state.

"This organization helps every police officer in the state of Washington and gives them the knowledge and belief that should the unthinkable happen to their family members, they will be taken care of,GÇ¥ Ginnard said. "We're very proud of Sgt. Johnston and his work with Behind the Badge.GÇ¥

Other 2015 Honors

Letters of Commendation were awarded to detectives Spencer Robinson and Tim Buzzell for their efforts in creating Monroe's Shop with a Cop program and Sgt. Steve Clopp and Officer Ryan Wolf for their charitable assistance to families in need.

It is not odd for a Monroe police officer to go the extra mile to help someone, said Communications Director Debbie Willis.

"Many times our officers are reaching into their own pockets to get them what they need,GÇ¥ she said.

Letters of Recognition were awarded to Johnston and Officer Jason Southard for becoming subject matter experts on the New World system, and to Sgt. Rick Dunn, officers Jake Carswell, Jon Richardson, Jason Southard, Shaun Van Eaton and community service officer LaDonna Whalen for their compassionate care of three children taken into CPS custody after they were discovered living in a car.

When the officers learned that it was one of the children's birthdays, they celebrated with a birthday party at the police station. The young boy told them it was the best birthday he had ever had.

Letters of Recognition went to officers Trevor Larson, Joe Stark, Devin Tucker and Detective Spencer Robinson, who attended a young Monroe boy's birthday party at Red Robin after learning that the 4-year-old wanted police officers to sing him Happy Birthday. A Letter of Recognition also went to Van Eaton for showing extraordinary perseverance in overcoming an injury to become a police officer, even attending the academy twice. Van Eaton was formally sworn in on Feb. 23.

Firefighter honors will be highlighted next week

Photo by Chris Hendrickson Monroe Police Department administrative manager Sherri Simonson and Sgt. Brian Johnston were honored last week in front of Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas and the Monroe City Council for their contributions to the department and to the community.


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