Person of the Week

Grace Fico

Crime prevention and D.A.R.E officer

I’ve been put in this position and even bad situations, for the opportunity to make an amazing difference when it is needed so much.  Even in horrible situations….I know that there is somebody that needs you.  To be that person and fill that spot is pretty cool….that’s what keeps me going.

1.  What led you to the mission of being a crime prevention and D.A.R.E officer?

When I was little, my dad said I was always the peacemaker of all the kids.  He said if they would start fighting, I would come up and say, “No, no, no — you’re going to take turns.”  That’s what we do as police officers – run into people on their worst days and that’s what led me to this position.  I like to go and see people on their worse day and make it better.

2.  What does this mission mean to you?

It’s rewarding.  As a crime prevention and D.A.R.E. officer I am the cushion people can lean on.  We don’t spend much time on, “Is it legal or is it illegal to do this?”  We focus on such problems as, “My son is addicted to marihuana.  Can you help me?”  And, of course, I help right away and then later if someone calls back to talk.

For example, if someone is burglarized, the next day I’ll call and say, “You were burglarized last night.  I’ve Police signbeen burglarized.  I know how that feels.  You feel vulnerable.  You feel very wronged.”  Then I might go out and talk to this person and go over things — like police procedures.  I go after the police officers investigate the crime and take care of the scene and all the evidence.  I’m the person who helps recoup in the aftermath.

Crime Prevention and D.A.R.E. are the more “compassionate” side of police work.  Don’t get me wrong  — police officers are compassionate – but it’s my job to be compassionate ninety percent of the time as opposed to ten percent of the time.  On the road as a police officer, that percentage is different.  D.A.R.E. is Drug Abuse Resistance Education  I go into schools and teach students for one hour a week for ten weeks. The kids are in fifth and sixth grade.  Our program was cut back, but we still go into two schools.  This is a really fun part of my job.

3.  What was your best day as a crime prevention and D.A.R.E. officer?

The best days I have are now.  I’ve been in this position for over a year and so everything is starting to Badgesrepeat.  I’m getting better at presenting, lessons, and chapters.  My best days are when I get to go into another business or go in front of a group of people and give a presentation and let them see how police officers are just people.  Like the Citizens’ Police Academy  and C.E.R.T (Community Emergency Response Team).

My most recent best day was D.A.R.E. graduation.  It was really awesome.  I love my D.A.R.E. kids.  Kids have a way straight to my heart – no matter what type kid — even the ones who act out.

We address bullying in the D.A.R.E. class.  Even in the D.A.R.E. class, there was situation with bullying. We worked through this. I helped the students work though it.  This situation was not in the book.  It wasn’t scripted.  It was a real life situation – the real stuff.

Some of the things the girls said made my day.  One girl was nearby and didn’t know I could hear her.  She was talking about me.  She said how I wasn’t like any other teacher and that I was “cool”.  That was a best day.

Also, small things can happen.  I helped a frightened woman change a tire.  She said, “I didn’t know police officers did that!”   Little things like that can make my day.

4.  What was your worst day as a crime prevention and D.A.R.E. officer?

I haven’t had a worst day as a crime prevention officer.  I love going and giving presentations, talking to the public, and showing them the background of police work.  There hasn’t been a bad day.  Unfortunately when I was an officer on the road, there were quite a bit of bad days.

One has always stood out to me.  I had responded to a call.  An older woman accidently ran over her Police carhusband.  There was an investigation and this was truly an accident.  She thought she had put her foot on the break, but her foot was on the gas pedal.  She was in reverse instead of park.  She backed up and ran over her husband.  Then the car did several “donuts” because she couldn’t get it under control.  He was also an older gentleman and so the weight of the car had broken his fragile bones.  I’ll never forget what it felt like to do CPR on someone who was in such a bad condition.

I was one of the first officers on the scene.  I remember her standing there and staring.  I think she was in shock.   Her husband was “gone.”  We went to the hospital and I had to give the death notification to the whole family.  She said to me, “I thought we were going to grow old together.”

You could tell this man was loved.  You could just see it.  I don’t know why that stuck with me.  It’s been many years since that happened.  That was one of my worst days – telling the family and then listening to her say how she wanted to grow old with her husband.  That was a very, very bad day.

5.  How did you survive your worst day?

What gets me though all of my bad days is God.  I know that this is all a part of His plan.  Even when there seems to be chaos – especially some of the calls that we go on – knowing there is a higher plan mentally gets me through the day.  Then I can go home and let it out.  That’s what gets me through it.

I can get through it because I’m stubborn!  The good days are so rewarding, it fills your “gas tank”.  Even Halll of badgesthough the bad days might not use up all your gas, you come back and you get filled up again.  Even in that horrible situation with the woman and her husband, I was put in this awesome or bad situation, position, or opportunity to make an amazing difference when it is needed so much.

In horrible situations – even in car accidents that are graphic – I know that there is somebody there that needs you.  To be that person and fill that spot is pretty cool.  I guess that’s what keeps me going.

If you are thinking about becoming an officer, just know that the first two years are the hardest going into police work.  You just have to embrace and look past that because after all the training, that’s when it becomes so rewarding.  That’s when all the work is worth it, all the college is worth it, and when your probation/rookie status is over.  If you can just make it those first two or three years, it’s definitely going to be worth it.