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On June 9 while going through my mail, I came upon a hand-written envelope addressed to the Ellensburg Police Department, attention Chief Wade. The purple lettering and neat handwriting stood out from the daily business correspondence I usually receive.

As I sat at my desk and read the letter I was quickly reminded of why I, and many if not all, other law enforcement officers and employees do this job. As you are aware, this year has brought many challenges to the policing profession. We are constantly under attack for the criminal actions of a small fraction of the men and women who wear a badge. Although we fully agree there are improvements needed in the police profession, and we have been advocating for this for several years, it had unfortunately fallen of deaf ears until now.

As I read the letter, I was reminded of the incredibly valuable service our profession provide the community. We make positive difference every day. We are called upon to deal with the worst society has to offer. We suffer through the tragedies of life with those victimized in our community. We are the ones knocking on your door to tell you the loss of a loved one. We are the ones crawling through a mangled car to provide you aid. We are the ones comforting you during a crisis. We are the ones who keep you safe and hold criminals accountable. We are also the ones raising money to support Special Olympics, leading the Ellensburg Rodeo Parade and helping you find your lost pet.

He started it by writing, “Chief Wade, this is a note of thanks for the services I received on July 4, 1974.” Although he did not remember the officers name from that evening, he did remember being treated with “… the utmost respect despite being arrested for DUI.” I must say, this statement grabbed my attention, 1974.

He went on to explain the kindness shown by the officer and the courts while they still held him accountable for his actions. In his last paragraph, he wrote, “The easiest part of it all, in retrospect, Chief, was the simple kindness extended to me between the time I was pulled over (until) the time I left the Ellensburg Court after sentencing.” This is the policing our community is accustomed to. We realize we do not get it right every time, but the culture of the Ellensburg Police Department is one of accountability and in the author’s words, “kindness.” We appreciate our community every day, that is why we choose to live, raise and family and work here.

In conclusion of his letter, the author wrote, “Again, I do not remember his name, but I’ll remember his humanity and his gentle important impact on my life. It’s interesting how a small nudge can make a big difference in the trajectory of things.”

I have been a police officer/public servant for nearly 33 years and this letter reminded me, it is not the big arrests, or the major crimes being solved that have the greatest impact on our community, it is the hundred of daily interactions officers and staff have with our community members that change lives for the better. This was true in 1974 and it continues to this day.

The author of the letter I received this day wished to remain anonymous, signing only his first name and the initial of his last. The envelope contained no return address, although I wish it had. I would have liked to congratulate him on the success of his life, to thank him for taking the time to share his story with me and for reminding me that policing is a noble profession despite what others may want you to believe.

Thinking back to 1974, I would be remiss if I did not thank the men and women who came before us — the officers, code enforcement, animal control, records staff and other positions lost to time. They are what made the Ellensburg Police Department such a wonderful organization. We carry that torch today and well into the future.

Although our duties, much like our population, have grown substantially since then, so has our commitment to keeping Ellensburg a safe and enjoyable place to live, raise a family and enjoy life.

And, if by chance the author of the letter should happen upon this note, I would like to tell him, thank you.

Ken Wade is the chief of the Ellensburg Police Department.

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