The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Officer Stacy Lynn Lakotas of the Hopkins (Minn.) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for February 2009.
Most law enforcement professionals are reluctant to boast, or even mention, some of the more hazardous or heroic actions they are called upon to take in the course of their careers. They will tell you that every situation they react to is something they have been trained to do. Regardless of how much danger the officer was in during the event, he or she will tell you that they were "just doing their job." Officer Stacy Lynn Lakotas has the same attitude whether she is on or off duty—if a job needs doing, just get it done. She consistently puts the needs of others before anything else.
In April 2007, on her way home from work after a particularly long shift, Officer Lakotas happened upon a serious motorcycle accident on a busy highway. She stopped at the accident scene, identified herself as an off-duty officer, and began rendering lifesaving care to the injured victim. On that chilly evening, she placed her jacket under the victim's head to comfort him and remained there until medical units arrived.
True to her nature, she never mentioned her role in saving the motorcyclist's life to anyone in her department. If representatives from the Minnesota State Police had not contacted Chief Craig Reid of the Hopkins Police Department to commend and thank one of his officers, this story would never have been told. Chief Reid states, "Officer Lakotas is not one to tell her own story."
Since 2000, just about the time when Officer Lakotas began her law enforcement career, Minnesota has lost 10 officers in the line of duty. The lives of those they loved were shattered and their grief beyond compare. But as officers from across the state came to pay their respect to these fallen heroes, Officer Lakotas witnessed firsthand the trauma, grief, and guilt that law enforcement professionals experience when one of their own goes down. Those immediately affected by the death are often too overwhelmed to acknowledge or recognize representatives from other agencies who attended the funeral or memorial services.
Officer Lakotas saw a need and began assembling two journals for each officer killed, containing patches, keepsakes, and other mementos from all the departments that sent representatives to the funeral. One book was presented to the family, and the other she presented to the department the officer served. These books have become treasured keepsakes.
On November 9, 2007, Officer Mark Bedard of the Minneapolis Park (Minn.) Police Department was killed in the line of duty as he and other officers were in pursuit of several suspects believed to have been involved in a violent shooting. As she has done too often in the past, Officer Lakotas put together her memorial journals, and presented them to the Bedard family and Chief Bradley Johnson, for whom Officer Bedard worked.
Shortly afterward, Chief Johnson expressed his gratitude to Chief Reid and, as happened before, no one in the Hopkins Police Department was aware of the incredible project of comfort and solace Officer Lakotas had initiated. Chief Johnson explained how very much this journal meant to the men and women of his department. He stated that the officers who had already had a chance to review the book thought it was a great idea and expressed how grateful they were that someone had done this for the officer's family and for their department. He continued by saying that he was sure the Bedard family felt the same and that someday Officer Bedard's son, Nick, who was only two years old at the time of his father's death, would see for himself how much his father meant to his community and to the state of Minnesota as a whole.
"Officer Lakotas's actions are in keeping with the highest standards of the Hopkins Police Department," wrote Chief Reid. "Her personal efforts to help both the families of fallen officers and the fallen officer's department personnel, and find a thoughtful way to review such events, is noted as a positive community service."
Officer Stacy Lynn Lakotas received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in June 1996 from the University of Minnesota. She is an eight-year veteran of the Hopkins (Minn.) Police Department from which she has received several commendations and awards for her service. She is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Minnesota Association of Women Police.
Located in the nation's capital, the NLEOMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.