Officer Deborah J. Wagner
Lexington-Fayette (KY) Urban County Division of Police
Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Officer Deborah J. Wagner of the Lexington-Fayette (KY) Urban County Division of Police as its Officer of the Month for November 2006.
With 28 years of service, Officer Deborah Wagner is the most senior female and the third most senior officer of the 550 members of her department. Her dedication to the community and her colleagues has made Officer Wagner’s career the model of which many will emulate for years to come. The community policing programs she has initiated are now the standard from which other departments across the nation take their cue.
Back in 1978 when Officer Wagner began her career with the Lexington-Fayette (KY) Urban County Division of Police as a safety officer, the program was designed as a feeder program; a tool to recruit more future law enforcement officers. Not before, nor since, has any officer guided more safety officers onto the force. In 1983 Officer Wagner successfully recruited a record number six females into the academy; a record that held until 2001 when seven females took the oath.
Officer Wagner believes that children hold the key to making their community a safer place for all its residents. As part of her responsibilities as a DARE officer, in 1992 she organized the Lexington Police DARE 911 Band. For fourteen years she recruited students, coordinated the band’s practice and appearance schedules and raised funds for her kids. As “Lady Blue” she and the band touched the lives of more than 90,000 central Kentucky students with their musical drug-free and safety messages.
The “Red Light Running” campaign was another initiative of which Officer Wagner took to new heights. Her goal was to improve public awareness about the dangers associated with unsafe driving habits and did so with fervor; creating public service announcements as well as print and radio releases. She solicited the support of the citizenry, local politicians, and judges. This lengthy, multifaceted campaign resulted in a significant reduction in red light-related collisions and raised public awareness of the dangers associated with the dangerous driving behavior.
In 1997 when three police officers from the surrounding area were shot within a span of two weeks, it became clear that the public needed to know more about the daily responsibilities of law enforcement professionals. Naturally, Officer Wagner was immediately assigned the project and created the department’s Citizens Police Academy (CPA). Officer Wagner set lofty goals for this new CPA; her idea was to hold two 10-week sessions annually for 25 citizens each session. Due to her enthusiastic leadership, ability to motivate, and the exceptional curriculum she developed the class became so popular it needed to be expanded almost immediately. Officer Wagner has directed more than 27 CPA classes and has instructed more than 1,750 citizens ranging in age from 18 to 88. Notably, more than 20 CPA graduates have gone on to become Lexington Police Officers. The protocol for the program developed by Officer Wagner is again the model from which other departments initiate Civilian Police Academies of their own.
Officer Wagner has since founded the Lexington CPA Alumni Association (CPAAA). More than 300 graduates of the CPA program are currently involved with the department helping to coordinate community events, and most importantly, in supporting officers who have been activated with the Armed Forces. Recently, the CPA Master Class was established; a program offering advanced lectures and tours of various facilities across the state. Each officer credits Officer Wagner as being the guiding light and driving force behind their success. In 2003 Officer Wagner was appointed as a member of the National CPAAA Executive Board and in 2006 the National CPA Alumni Association awarded the Lexington CPAAA as its Association of the Year.
Officer Wagner is also responsible for the coordination of the Crime Free-Multi Housing and Crime Free-Motel programs. These programs consist of 16 multi-day sessions attended by more than 700 multi-housing property owners representing more than 220 properties. The sessions are aimed at educating the property and motel managers in areas such as crime reduction and prevention strategies. Both programs were “firsts” for the state of Kentucky. Dedication to the law enforcement profession and the community is a Wagner family affair. Officer Wagner’s husband and construction team absorbed the cost and installed a 14-foot tall Rock of Ages granite law enforcement memorial, complete with a perpetual flame in a park in the center of town.
Officer Deborah Wagner’s personnel file is bursting with more than 380 letters of appreciation from grateful citizens, business representatives, three mayors, and the four chiefs of police she has served under. She is married with two children, a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Kentucky Police Officers Association, the National Citizen Police Alumni Association, and the Lexington CPAAA She is a beloved and active member in her church and in 2005 completed a pilgrimage to Rome.
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.