One thing about the citizens of Monroe; they love their first responders.
In conjunction with Monroe's Police and Fire Appreciation Week, officers from the Monroe Police Department and firefighters from Snohomish County Fire District 3 spent some time in Monroe School District classrooms last week. The first responders received hand-crafted cards, words of gratitude, and sometimes even baked goods.
This was in addition to the outpouring of gift baskets and treats they had already received at the station.
The events of the week culminated with a catered Police and Fire Appreciation Lunch, which took place on Friday, Nov. 21, at the Monroe Fire Department. The annual lunch is coordinated by the Monroe Police and Fire Chaplain Program.
On Wednesday, Nov. 19, Monroe Police Officers Devin Tucker and Chuck Fuller visited Jessica Conte's kindergarten classroom at Frank Wagner Elementary School. The officers accepted original artwork from each student while chatting with them, talking about their drawings and offering high praise for each student's originality and skill.
As the officers prepared to return to work, the kids shouted, "We love police officers!GÇ¥
Officer Fuller recently celebrated 14 years with the department, and Officer Tucker has been with the department for about 18 months. He shared that the Police and Fire Appreciation Week is a special experience and that all the officers really appreciate the effort that the entire community puts forth.
Officer Tucker served for seven years in the United States Navy as a Master-at-Arms before coming to work for the Monroe Police Department.
"The city is a great place to work; the citizens love their police,GÇ¥ said Tucker. "You don't get that everywhere.GÇ¥
Tucker graduated with honors from the basic law enforcement academy in October of 2013, receiving awards for both academic and overall achievement.
At Park Place Middle School, also on Wednesday, Officers Jake Carswell and Javier Patton spent some time interacting with students and enjoying some pumpkin
"dump cake.GÇ¥ Patton played checkers with one student while Carswell was challenged to two games of chess.
The visit gave the students the opportunity to experience the officers on a human level and engage with them in friendly conversation. They chatted with students about video games, motorcycle helmets and what they like to do in their spare time. Students, who were given the opportunity to ask the officers whatever questions they wished, were curious about whether or not the officers practiced using their weapons, and what it was like being a K9 officer.
Officer Carswell served as a K9 officer for seven years with Joker, a 95-pound German shepherd. Joker, who served with the department for a total of nine years, tracked countless suspects with Officer Carswell in Monroe and the surrounding areas. Recently retired, Joker lives with Carswell, his wife, Chrissy, and their four children.
Carswell shared that, after some initial confusion as to why he wasn't going work every day, Joker seems to have settled into retirement quite well.
Carswell, who has been with the Monroe Police Department since 2002, was presented with a 2013 department award for his performance at the crime scene after Monroe resident Jacoba Ramirez-Rodriguez was stabbed on Lewis Street in downtown Monroe. She later died from her injuries.
When asked about the small notepad in his pocket, Officer Patton discussed with students the importance of taking notes and recording specific details about different incidents throughout the day. He shared that most police officers use small notebooks to keep track of things while they are out on patrol.
"Officer Carswell doesn't even use paper,GÇ¥ joked Officer Patton. "He just writes everything on his hand.GÇ¥
Officer Patton served for 20 years on both active and reserve duty in the United States Navy. He has received multiple honors from the Monroe Police Department for his exemplary police work. He was also recognized as a leader in law enforcement by the Snohomish County DUI & Target Zero Task Force in 2010.
On Friday, Nov. 21, after being serenaded by 5th grade students from Frank Wagner Elementary School, first responders were served lunch catered by Ixtapa's in Monroe. Ixtapa owner Mateo Barajas has donated food for the luncheon since it began around 13 years ago. Additionally, Albertson's custom-made two cakes, one honoring the Monroe Police Department, and the other honoring Monroe Firefighters.
Each table was decorated with hand-written, heart-shaped notes that children in the community had created for officers during various community events like National Night Out and the Monroe Fire Department's open house.
Sister Barbara Geib of St. Mary of the Valley Catholic Church, who initiated the Monroe Police Chaplain program over 30 years ago, is one of the founders of the appreciation lunch, along with Pastor Michael Hanford. Ladies from St. Mary's, including Kay Faulds, decorated the training room at the fire station and helped serve punch.
Valley General Hospital Cardiopulmonary and Emergency Services Manager Tammy Chapman spoke at the lunch; taking the opportunity to thank the first responders for all that they do for the hospital.
"We at Valley General just wanted to thank you for your service and your dedication to our community,GÇ¥ said Chapman. "We appreciate being a part of your team and love having you on our team.GÇ¥
Pastor Michael Hanford shared that it is with gratitude that he is able to recognize Monroe first responders for all they do in the community. Pastor Hanford joined the Monroe Police Chaplaincy program in 1998, a program which eventually evolved to include service to the Monroe Fire Department as well.
Hanford frequently goes on "ride-alongsGÇ¥ with both the police and the fire departments and is consistently overwhelmed by all that they do in the interest of public safety.
"We're so excited about who they are and what they do in our community,GÇ¥ said Hanford.
Hanford added that he was very thankful for Kool Change Printing in Monroe, which was able to create a brand new Police and Fire Appreciation banner to replace the old one which was damaged during the high winds which occurred on November 11 and 12.
The approximately 25-foot by 4-foot banner was rehung over Main Street by the Monroe Parks Department on Wednesday, Nov. 19.
"Our old banner was good for another year, but with the high winds it just totally beat the banner to smithereens,GÇ¥ said Hanford. "Kool Change Printing was able to do, like, a five-day turnaround, which is just unheard of.GÇ¥
Several community partners have donated to help fund the new banner.Perfect little Christmas tree in fresh snow isolated on pure white background