Portage Police Officer Brian Loewenhagen says sometimes police officers can change a person’s entire world through one meaningful interaction.
Community members will be included in a new process to help recognize police officers for exceptional service, now that Loewenhagen has been named chairman of the newly formed Police Awards Committee.
“I think it’s good to get that feedback from the community,” Loewenhagen said, adding when officers know they’re being reviewed by their peers, it provides an incentive to recognize one another’s efforts.
The committee is aimed at establishing a formal process and ceremony through which officers are nominated for various awards and recognized for outstanding actions. It’s the first time citizens will be able to weigh in formally on which officers deserve special recognition.
Loewenhagen described the new initiative as a collaborative group effort to help congratulate officers for good work.
Previously, officers were given kudos or a plaque with their name on it as rewards for going above and beyond, Assistant Police Chief Keith Klafke said.
“Other people may have done ‘attaboys.’ … It didn’t go through a committee; it just kind of went to the chief,” Klafke said. “Depending on what type of incident it was, it was determined whether an award would be given out here at the office or at council meetings.”
An awards committee streamlines that entire process, he said.
“All awards are going to the same group. There’s one awards committee that everybody gets recognized for their past year’s performance and events,” Klafke said.
Officers can also nominate fellow police personnel for an award.
“Before, it might have been more word to word, but now there’s an ability to put a plug in for another officer,” Klafke said.
The process will involve multiple categories and a celebratory event every year at a yet undetermined location. Klafke said attendees will be encouraged to invite family and friends.
In hopes of further building upon that legitimacy, the police department is seeking community partners in schools or business leaders to help get the word out.
The first awards ceremony for officers’ actions in 2019 will be held in the spring of 2020.
Citizens can contact Loewenhagen via email at Brian.Loewenhagen@portagewi.gov to receive a form to nominate an officer for an award.
Forms will also be available on social media and available on the police department’s website.