The Juneau Assembly last night honored a city police officer who recently received a statewide award as the top local government employee in Alaska.
Then for good measure, the Assembly recognized the entire Juneau Police Department.
Officer Blaine Hatch is JPD’s school resource officer. He runs the D.A.R.E. program, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. He’s also often the first officer to respond to incidents in Juneau schools.
“Officer Hatch is somewhere between a rock star and a substitute parent for so many of Juneau’s kids,” said Mayor Merrill Sanford.
Hatch received this year’s Alaska Municipal League Municipal Employee of the Year award. AML is a nonprofit interest group for local governments in Alaska. Its board of directors bestowed the honor on Hatch last month after city officials nominated him.
Sanford listed some of the reasons Hatch deserves the recognition.
“He single-handedly teaches D.A.R.E. in six schools, runs the Junior Police Academy, responds to police calls in the schools and assists patrol in his spare time,” Sanford said.
When a student brought a handgun to Thunder Mountain High School earlier this year, Hatch detained him and assisted school officials with a lockdown. He’s also credited with helping save the life of a man who collapsed at a downtown bar this past summer.
But Sanford said it’s the little things that earned Hatch his award.
“Officer Hatch assisted with security at the prom celebrations during the spring of 2013. A school employee wrote JPD a thank you letter after seeing him vacuuming the entryway of the venue in his uniform just before the doors opened,” Sanford said.
After Hatch was recognized, Assemblyman Jerry Nankervis – himself a former Juneau cop – said a few words of thanks to the men and women of JPD.
“I know there’s been stuff in the press lately that has not been favorable toward police officers,” Nankervis said. “I am a homer. Hands down, even in spite of that, this is the best police department in the state of Alaska.”
After Nankervis’ remarks the dozen or so police officers and JPD family members at the meeting stood in a line as Assembly members and city staff offered personal thanks with a handshake or a hug.