Wyoming Police Officer Rachel Columbus has been selected to receive the 2016 James Trudeau Law Enforcement award. This award is given annually to one law enforcement officer in recognition of outstanding dedication and service to youth. Officer Columbus was nominated by Wyoming Elementary fifth grade teacher, Amanda Vinzant.
“Officer Columbus is a great role model and a positive reflection of the police in the community,” Vinzant said in a press release.
Officer Columbus graduated from Bemidji State University in 2004 and joined the Wyoming Police Department in 2006. The inspiration for this nomination by Ms. Vinzant is Officer Columbus’s development of the Police Educating Area Kids program for local 5th graders in 2013.
“When the DARE program changed its focus, I thought it was the perfect time to come up with a similar program, but one that only focused on drugs and alcohol instead of life skills,” Columbus said in a press release. “I felt that the parents of the children would be much better suited for teaching their kids about being strong and confident, and the school already has an excellent bullying program in place. Through PEAK, the students can get the real life stories of the negative impact of drugs and alcohol that police officers see on a daily basis.”
Officer Columbus’s engagement with the community runs far beyond her job on patrol and her PEAK activities. She is specially trained for interviewing young children and juveniles involved in physical or sexual abuse situations, and she monitors predatory offenders to ensure compliance with city ordinances.
“The Wyoming Police Department loves the community we work for, and I personally find special joy in interacting with the kids in our community, she said in a press release. “Whether it is giving high fives while on patrol or working with our child protection unit, my goal is to protect the children in our area and show them they can turn to us if they ever have a problem.”
James (Jim) Trudeau, the founder of Lakes Center for Youth and Families, had 35 plus years in law enforcement and was a retired Washington County sheriff, past Forest Lake Police chief, and past Sheriff’s Association executive director.
“I am grateful to receive the James Trudeau award and am honored to receive an award that tributes a fellow police officer who did many great things in law enforcement like Jim Trudeau,” Columbus said in a press release.
The awards presentation for Officer Columbus will be held June 20 with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation before the Wyoming City Council at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend and show support. The Wyoming municipal building address is 26885 Forest Blvd.