There are many public employees who devote their time and talents to making our communities better places in which to live. America’s law enforcement officers are certainly in this category. The National Exchange Club’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Program gives our clubs opportunities to formally thank their local law enforcement agencies for their dedicated service while recognizing special officers for their actions above and beyond the call of duty. The Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Program is most often coordinated by a club’s Community Service or Americanism Committee.
Make sure your club has funds budgeted for a Law Enforcement Officer of the Year plaque and medallion from the National Exchange Club’s Supply Department. The awards can be engraved locally. Also, consider purchasing an Exchange Club Law Enforcement Officer of the Year roster for prominent display in the local agency. The roster consists of a series of plates for engraving the names of annual honorees. Other expenses for the program include meals for law enforcement members, the honoree’s family, and guests at the recognition event.
Have your club’s Community Service or Americanism Committee assign a chairperson for the project, and determine your criteria for selecting the honoree. For example, you may want to consider giving special emphasis to an officer who has excelled in cases involving the prevention of child abuse. Develop a nomination form. Contact your local police chief or county sheriff and explain that your Exchange Club wants to honor the service of the law enforcement agency as well as a special officer. (Note: Some law enforcement agencies may be hesitant to have an individual officer recognized. Emphasize that the Exchange Club’s program not only honors an individual officer but also shows your club’s appreciation to the entire department.) Review the nomination form and selection criteria with your police chief or county sheriff, and request that written nominations be submitted from within the department over a three week period. After the nominations are received, review the candidate information within your committee, rank the candidates, and submit your committee’s top selection to your police chief or county sheriff to establish its appropriateness. Thank the law enforcement agency leader for their assistance, and review the protocol for contacting the honoree. Also, confirm the date and timing for the event, and explain how many guests your committee has planned for the event.
As directed by the police chief or county sheriff, contact the recipient. The law enforcement leader will likely contact the honoree’s supervisor first, and it may be appropriate to inform the individual in person during the start or end of his or her shift. If the contact is made in person, consider having several Exchange Club members present for the announcement. Confirm that the officer is available to receive the award during your event, and inform the officer that a table has been reserved for his or her family.
Have the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year plaque, medallion, and roster engraved with the name of the recipient, name of your club, and date of the presentation. The award presentation can occur during your regular club meeting or during a special event. Consider having the law enforcement agency’s chaplain deliver the invocation. Before presenting the award, thank the entire law enforcement agency for their service, and describe their impacts on your community. (Note: General information and statistics may be available on the agency’s website.) Describe the award criteria and the nominating process for guests at the event. As appropriate, read the honoree’s nomination form, or invite the honoree’s nominator to say a few words. Then, present the Exchange Club’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year plaque and medallion to the recipient. The honoree may want his or her spouse to pin the medallion to the uniform. Invite the honoree to address the audience, and then thank the officer for his or her dedicated service. Present the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year roster to the police chief or county sheriff, and invite the agency leader to say a few words. Close the event by once again thanking the entire law enforcement agency for making your community a better place in which to live.
Make sure to invite the local media and government officials to the award presentation. It will be appreciated by your honoree and the law enforcement agency, and it is always good for promoting your Exchange Club.
Also, consider inviting your Law Enforcement Officer of the Year to participate in another Exchange Club event during the year. For example, honor the officer on an Exchange Club float during a local parade, or have the officer serve as a judge (for food, talent, etc.) during an Exchange Club fundraiser.