Officer of the Year

By on August 24, 2016

An interview with Manheim’s Kirk Colwell

A police officer for nearly three years, Manheim Police Department’s Kirk Colwell is now the county’s Officer of the Year.

The Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association bestowed the award on him earlier this summer. He had 48 DUI arrests last year. For that achievement, he is also one of 13 officers who received the DUI Council of Lancaster County’s Top Gun Award for DUI arrests.

He’s very modest when discussing these accolades. He pointed out that being named Officer of the Year is an honor and a humbling experience.

“To me, it shows that my training and guidance from leadership inside my department prepared me to do my job to the best of my ability,” said Colwell. “Being named Officer of the Year is not a reflection of just me, but also of those within my agency such as the Chief (Joe Stauffer) and the Sergeants who set high standards in our department. Since I was recognized so early in my career, it’s important for me to continue to excel and set standards for my profession. I also want to continue to learn and to set a good example for the younger officers.”

“We are very proud that Officer Colwell was selected as Officer of the Year,” said Manheim Borough Police Chief Joe Stauffer. “He served overseas in combat, and now serves the citizens of our community. He is a leader who enjoys protecting the community where he works. His productiveness on patrol and his ability to handle individuals with dignity and respect are true assets to the Manheim Borough Police Department.”

Colwell said that he chose to become an officer with Manheim because he had heard good things about the department and its chief. The department also serves Rapho Township. The opportunity to be part of a department that not only serves a borough of about 5,000 residents but also serves a large township that has residential areas as well as a large agricultural area, also attracted Colwell to the position, which is his first one in law enforcement.

“Patrolling the borough and the township are two different experiences,” Colwell explains. “The borough could be walked on foot, while Rapho is more open. Since Route 283 bisects the township and there are several exits from this highway in the township, there also a lot of traffic stemming from it. Plus there’s traffic of another kind — agricultural equipment.”

Colwell said that his favorite thing about being a patrolman is being proactive in reducing the number of individuals that are impaired on the roadway as well as being proactive in reducing the number of individuals either transporting or in possession of drugs. He also enjoys interacting with community residents and being a first responder in critical accidents. His focus on DUIs stems from witnessing vehicle accidents, some with fatalities, that were the result of an impaired driver.

Colwell stressed that it’s important to educate drivers about DUI so it may prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle if they’re impaired.

“As police officers we are protecting the innocent people as well as the impaired driver behind the wheel,” he explains. “It’s also important to remember that the number of drivers under the influence of a controlled substance has increased at an alarming rate; they are just as dangerous as individuals under the influence of alcohol.”

And as in other professions, technology has impacted the way officers do their jobs. Colwell pointed out that police cruisers are equipped with laptops, and the two tools together have helped increase the speed in which officers are able to identify stolen vehicles, as well as people with outstanding arrest warrants. The laptops also allow law enforcement officers to complete reports, which means they spend less time doing them at the police station and more time on the streets interacting with the community.

According to Colwell, social media has also “given us great opportunities to stay connected with the community and distribute important information when needed.”

Being a police officer has been Colwell’s ambition since he was a child. But he decided to serve his country in another way first. He served in the U.S. Army infantry for four years, and was deployed to Afghanistan for a one-year tour of duty in 2010.

“Being in a Third World country that didn’t have police, I saw first-hand how people, especially children, were treated,” he said. “After serving in the military, I realized that I wanted to continue serving my country as well as the community, so I pursued a career in law enforcement.”

Colwell said that his perspective on many things has changed since becoming a police officer. One of those is heroin.

“I have seen heroin use take away any morals a person has, just so they can score their next fix. The increase in heroin use has been quite dramatic. As a father, it makes me wonder how I can stop this from impacting my own family,” he stressed. “That’s why I am proud of assisting people who have an addiction and helping them receive the treatment they need.”

When he’s not on duty, he enjoys spending time with his family and attending their sporting events. He also enjoys working out and spending time with his coworkers. Colwell and his wife, Kristi, have three daughters, ages 10, 5, and 3.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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