Police officers in Laurel were front and center for a special honors banquet held on Saturday, June 22, at the Laurel Fire Hall. The event is held annually to recognize the law enforcement work carried out daily by the town’s police department on behalf of the community.
Police Chief Dan Wright said the awards banquet helps show the community the job officers do for them. “This is our third year of honoring our town officers along with Troopers, officers from other agencies, and members of State Probation and Parole for the job they do in protecting our state and community,” he said. “I have never met anyone who wanted a career in law enforcement just so they can receive an award. Law enforcement officers are courageous, confident, caring, dedicated, honorable, honest and loving individuals who put others before themselves and I truly believe everyone here tonight fits into those categories.”
One of the honors presented at the banquet included the 2018 “Officer of the Year” award. Wright said the recipient of this year’s honors has the significance of breaking what he termed “a 19-year streak” in Officer of the Year presentations. “Since the inception of the Officer of the Year award in 1999, all of the recipients have had one thing in common; they were all male police officers. This year we are proud to present the 2018 Officer of the Year award to our first female officer recipient, Pfc. Ashley Little,” he said.
Wright said he met Pfc. Little in 2016, while she was working with the state Department of Corrections. She approached him about the prospects of becoming a police officer. He said she became the first recruit he gave an application to, and the first he presented with a conditional hire. “I quickly figured based on Pfc. Little’s determination throughout our hiring process, she had the makings of a good police officer and would be a good addition to the Laurel Police Department,” he said.
In presenting the award to Little, Wright said of her, “Pfc. Little is an outstanding young officer who is certainly not afraid of work. She takes tremendous pride in her job. She will seek the advice of our more senior officers to make sure she is doing things the right way. She is always out in the community being seen and engaging with our citizens,” he said. “She goes above and beyond what is expected. She is the first to volunteer her time or accept an assignment, no matter how challenging it may be. Pfc. Little is up for the task and what she doesn’t know or understand she is willing to do what is necessary to find the right answer.”
Wright said the selection process for nominating the Officer of the Year involves the department’s administrative staff reviewing each officer’s performance in the areas of work performed, ethics, attitude and professional demeanor.
He said Pfc. Little is ranked first in several areas of police work including the number of incidents she either proactively initiated or responded to, felony-related reports, misdemeanor arrests and handling personal injury accidents.