Archive for Thursday, March 3, 2005

New duty puts officer in touch with community

March 3, 2005

Lansing Police Officer Sundae Holler wants to help solve your problems.

Since Feb. 2, Holler has been the Police Department's community oriented police officer, or COP officer for short.

"Primarily, my job is to work with the citizens of Lansing to, I think, enhance their quality of life," Holler said in a recent interview from her office in the Lansing Police Department.

That means, she said, she wants to help residents with concerns that can range from loitering to suspicious activity to "just a million things," including working with the city's code enforcers to take care of overgrown yards.

She readily admits that a police officer can't do everything.

With just more than a year on the force, Holler said she'd already learned that people had an expectation that a police officer could fix anything.

"They think, 'No matter what it is, we'll call the police, and they'll fix it,'" Holler said. "You know, I think every police officer would like to think they could, but it's just not going to happen."

That realization, though, won't keep Holler from trying when she's called.

In the month she's been in her current post, she's been spending time on several community-related projects. Among them have been working with parents on the department's popular Dingo ID child identification program and visiting businesses to build a database of contacts in case of after-hour emergencies.

Holler said she hoped she could help community members to set up neighborhood watch programs as the weather turns warmer.

The COP officer is not police work in the traditional sense, but it's something Holler likes.

"When I came on to the department - before I ever went to the academy or anything like that - I thought to myself, 'Boy, that's a job I'd think I'd like to do. I think I'd really get a lot of satisfaction out of that. I think that I'd be good at that,'" she said.

The opportunity came in late January with the appointment of Steve Wayman as chief of police.

Holler, who took over the post with Billy Blackwell II's return to the patrol division, said the COP job had its own rewards.

"Of course it's exciting to catch the bad guy - it is," she said. "I mean, everybody wants to do that.

"It's also very exciting and very rewarding to me sometimes when I'm driving down the street and somebody will stop me and say, 'Hey I really appreciate what you did' or 'You talked to my daughter the other day and she said you were really nice.' Any kind of appreciation like that, I get excited about; it makes me feel super."

A Leavenworth resident and mother of a 10-year-old son, Mason, and 8-year-old daughter, Hattie, Holler said she grew up with dreams of being a police officer but initially settled for work with the U.S. Postal Service. She said being a letter carrier was a good job, and she was grateful to have it.

"I just never was completely satisfied," she said.

As she got older, she said, she kept envisioning herself as an elderly person sitting in a rocking chair and thinking "I wish I would have."

The returning vision prompted her to answer a want ad in 2003 for a police officer in Lansing. She was hired.

"When I was a little bitty kid, being a police officer was what I wanted to be," she said. "Some people wanted to be a lawyer or a rock star or something; being a police officer was my big dream. I always thought that was the thing I wanted to do."

Holler attended the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson, graduated from the 14-week course and began work in February 2004 as a patrol officer.

The 13 months since then have shown her she made the right decision.

"Being a police officer is a job like no other : but just doing it as long as I have, I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing, and I'm very satisfied," she said.

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