Officers awarded Crisis Intervention Officers of the Year

LOGO 2019

PRESS RELEASE

DATE:              January 18, 2024

TO:                  Local Media Outlets

FROM:             Sarah Weihert, Public Relations Executive Assistant

RE:                   Officers awarded Crisis Intervention Officers of the Year

Fort Atkinson Police Officer Vanessa Leonard and her spouse Johnson Creek Police Officer Jay Leonard were awarded the Crisis Intervention Officers of the Year award from Jefferson County Human Services at the Jefferson County Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association annual award banquet Jan. 17, 2024.

Vanessa and Jay were nominated by the Fort Atkinson Police Department for the establishment of the Jefferson County Support Team (P.O.S.T.), a peer-to-peer support network designed to assist officers and their families during times of personal and professional crises. The primary objective of the team is not to conduct investigations, but rather to provide encouragement, education, and normalization of life and career stressors. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Vanessa and Jay, the team now comprises members from every law enforcement agency in the county.

The mission of the Jefferson County Police Officer Support Team is, “to be a confidential resource to emergency service employees and their family members who are experiencing overwhelming personal and occupational stressors.” Vanessa takes the selection of team members seriously, implementing stringent criteria and training procedures to ensure their qualifications. She has invested countless hours in developing literature, attending training sessions at her own expense, and spearheading the team's establishment. All of this has been done without any monetary reward, solely to fortify the thin blue line.

P.O.S.T. offers a range of services to law enforcement departments, free of charge, including defusing and debriefing sessions. The team promptly assembles and responds after critical incidents, providing affected responders with an opportunity to process the emotional aspects of high-stress situations. These sessions take place in a judgment-free environment, surrounded by peers. Additionally, P.O.S.T. members are available by phone to officers in need. When the situation exceeds the team's capabilities, Vanessa and Jay ensure that they have access to appropriate resources for referral.

Members of the Fort Atkinson Police Department Command staff said in nomination paperwork, Vanessa and Jay have single-handedly initiated a movement of support for first responders throughout Jefferson County. They have created a sense of community where none existed before.

“The resources provided by P.O.S.T. enable our department to send officers into the community with clearer minds and better physical health. Thanks to Vanessa and Jay's selfless efforts, our first responders now have access to support that would otherwise be unavailable,” said Chief Adrian Bump. “The positive impact of their endeavors extends not only to our departments and responders but also to our communities. Most importantly, it benefits our brothers, sisters, and their families.”

Over the past seven years a Fort Atkinson Police Officer has won this award four out of the seven times.

 

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CIT Officer of the Year

CIT Officer of the Year: Fort Atkinson Police Officer Vanessa Leonard and her spouse Johnson Creek Police Officer Jay Leonard were awarded the Crisis Intervention Officers of the Year award from Jefferson County Human Services at the Jefferson County Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association annual award banquet Jan. 17, 2024. From left are: Lt. Ben Lindsey, Chief Adrian Bump, Officer Vanessa Leonard, Officer Jay Leonard, Lt. Dan Hefty and Lt. Kevin Miller.

CIT Officers of the Year 2

Officer Vanessa Leonard and Officer Jay Leonard are seen after being awarded the Crisis Intervention Officers of the Year award from Jefferson County Human Services at the Jefferson County Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association annual award banquet Jan. 17, 2024.