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Police chief praises his department

FARMINGTON — While nominating his department’s police officer of the year, Chief Rick Baker offered a glowing testimonial to the job all members of the department are doing.

“This year, if I could nominate my whole department, that would be my choice for Officer of the Year,” Baker said in his letter of nomination.

“During the 20 years I have served with the Farmington Police Department, I can’t remember a time when every member of our department worked together and effectively communicated with each other as well as the officers and employees that I have now.”

The comments were made by Baker in a letter to Roland Seal of the Mineral Area Community Elks Lodge, sponsors of the annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Night.

“Farmington, as well as all other communities in St. Francois County, do not have an abundant problem with serious crimes against persons,” Baker continued. “I partially attribute this to the fact that St. Francois County and the State of Missouri are blessed with law enforcement personnel who are hard working and genuinely care about the safety and welfare of our residents.”

Baker said Friday the task of making the annual nomination is a difficult one, not because the person nominated does not deserve the honor, but because so many officers deserve it.

“Our department only responded to three robberies and five rapes in 2002, but in each case an arrest was made or a suspect was identified and a request for prosecution was submitted. I do not believe this would have been possible if our patrol officers and investigators did not possess the kind of working relationship I have witnessed. For this, I am thankful to them all.”

In discussing the effectiveness of his department, Baker also makes it clear it is not just the uniform officers and detectives who make it so. It also includes the dispatchers and the administrative staff, all of whom contribute to the task of protecting the public. They all feel very strongly about their responsibility.

Difficult as the decision might have been, Baker also said he had no qualms about nominating Officer LeRoy Beard for this year’s honor. He described him not only as Officer of the Year, but also as Rookie of the Year. Beard joined the department in December of 2001.

Baker cited Beard’s performance in statistics, citing 115 arrests, responding to 280 incidents, working 97 traffic accidents and more than 1,100 traffic citations and warnings.

The chief noted it is often said, “If you’re not getting complaints, then you’re not doing anything.” He said this is not the case with Beard. “Well, believe it or not, Officer Beard is not generating complaints, but he is getting the job done.”

Beard was one of seven law enforcement officers who received awards Thursday night at the Mineral Area Community Elks Lodge event. Each law enforcement agency in the county is afforded the opportunity to name an officer of the year.

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