Advocates award Officer of the Year
November 1, 2016
When we think of all the difficult tasks our law enforcement and community policing officers must face on a regular basis we tend to focus on the dangerous and life threatening aspects of their jobs.
But there is another dynamic to being a police officer that can be almost as daunting, interactions with victims and victim's families. When tragedy strikes police officers are typically among the first individuals citizens encounter. As such they often act as informal counselors, assisting victims in the grieving process and helping provide information and instruction on where or how to begin moving forward.
Every year Grand County Advocates for a Violence Free Community, a local non-profit volunteer based organization whose mission is to end domestic and sexual violence in Grand County, recognizes one local deputy or police officer as their Officer of the Year.
For 2016 Lieutenant Dan Mayer with the Grand County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) was named Advocates Officer of the Year. Mayer formally received the award last week as part of a Candlelight Vigil event held at the Granby Town Hall. Sheriff Brett Schroetlin was on hand to help present Mayer with the award.
We at the Sky-Hi News are very familiar with Lt. Mayer, who serves as the Public Information Officer for the GCSO along with his duties as Patrol Lieutenant for the department. We are well aware of his thoughtful and conscientious approach to law enforcement as well as his dedication to victims and their families and believe the award is well deserved.
The recognition came as something of a shock to Mayer, who was attending the Candle Light Vigil because he believed other deputies were going to be recognized. "It came as a surprise to me," Mayer said Monday afternoon Oct. 31. "When we look at victims advocates and services we usually look at victims of domestic violence. I deal more with people who are trying to sort things out days later."
While Mayer does work at times with victims of domestic violence and their families the veteran deputy also often serves as something of a point-man for the GCSO in their dealings with victims families in other incidents. Mayer works closely with victim's families after tragedies to answer questions and attempts to give them some semblance of understanding or closure.
Mayer has been in law enforcement for around 31-years, starting his career with the Wheat Ridge Police Department in 1985. Ironically enough when he first began applying for jobs in law enforcement he applied to the GCSO and received a job offer from Grand County the same day he received an offer from Wheat Ridge. He decided to go with Wheat Ridge where he worked until he transferred to the Westminster Police Department in 1993. Mayer would go on to spend almost 20-years with the Westminster PD before joining the GCSO in 2011.
As luck would have it Lt. Mayer served for a time as a police academy instructor where one of his students was future Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin.
When asked what he sees as the biggest challenges facing law enforcement today Mayer said, "the image created through the indiscretions of some officers in other cities and states has created challenges. I lived through the whole Rodney King thing and the aftermath of that and how man years it took to recover from that. We have this whole thing all over again." Mayer also added that media reports about use of force incidents that lack context do not help the situation.
"I wish people understood we are human," Mayer said. "We are not perfect. We can make mistakes. We try not to." He also discussed the difficultly created by citizen perceptions of police officers based on television and movies. "There is no other job with more TV shows or moves made about it. People watch those and think they know how to do our job. It creates a lot of unrealistic expectations. On TV they solve every crime, and in one-hour."
Mayer also highlighted the fact that in almost all the calls fielded by law enforcement one party will be unhappy with the outcome. "I have always said it is fairly rare that I can make both sides of any call happy. We kind of get used to one person being happy and one not. There are very few instances in this job where you can make both happy."
Mayer's peers selected him for Advocate's Officer of the Year award. To select a winner Advocates sends out a Survey Monkey survey to all local members of the law enforcement community, the local District Attorney's office, those who work within the court system such as Probations and the Courts, and the Advocates Board and volunteers as well.
Candidates for Officer of the Year are taken from the pool of officers who received Officer of the Month designation from Advocates over the preceding 12-months.
Sheila Kesler, Shelter Manager/Victims Services Coordinator for Advocates, spoke highly of Mayer. "He (Mayer) is always here when we have an officer open house at the Safe House," Kesler said. "He goes above and beyond to make sure Advocates are involved in all the domestic violence and sexual assault cases that come to the Sheriff's Office."
The Advocates Officer of the Year last year, for 2015, was Sergeant Jim Kraker with the Granby Police Department (GPD). In 2014 Chief Bill Housley, also with the GPD, was recognized as Advocates Officer of the Year.