By Spencer Impellizzeri
Meridian Times staff writer
Ever since high school, Lana Howell wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the police force.
After doing just that for 19 years, Howell received the top honor at the Meridian Township Police Department Awards Ceremony on March 19, as she was named Officer of the Year.
“It’s kind of overwhelming knowing that people regard me the way they do and I am just very appreciative of it,” Howell said of receiving the award. “It makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing and the decisions that I do make come back and support who I am as a person.”
When Howell was a kid, she used to ride along with her father, who worked as a police officer for the East Lansing Police Department.
“He had all the excitement of the college kids and I really like how exciting it was with people out all the time day and night, but then as I got older I realized the reason why he did it and that was for public service to help those who can’t help themselves and be an advocate for them,” Howell said.
Howell reiterated how appreciative she was of the award, as she was nominated for the award by her coworkers
“When my father retired from East Lansing, officers that worked under my dad told me is that he was always fair and consistent and I thought those are great qualities and that they are the highest compliments that you can get,” Howell said. “I try and keep those qualities in mind when I make decisions.”
Howell had a large group of family and friends who came out to see her receive the award.
“I am very proud,” her brother, Lee Howell, said. “She is a hard worker. Ever since high school she has wanted to be a police officer and follow in her father’s footsteps.”
“With her being the youngest sister, I am just very proud,” said Howell’s sister, Lori DeClercq.
Howell also received praise from coworkers.
“She really did deserve this award,” said Lt. Greg Frenger. “Her getting this award is not only a great honor to her, but it really does speak to her hard work for the police department.”
Police Chief David Hall also spoke highly of Howell.
“She is just a darn good sergeant,” Hall said. “She has her head on her shoulders all the time and makes good decisions. She is respected by her shift and leads with good heart but knows when to put her foot down. I just feel comfortable when she’s out there.”
The awards ceremony is held each March and honors members of the Meridian Township Police Department, as well as citizens.
“Once a year, always in march, we get together, in fact, we have a police advisory committee that gets together and they have potential awards that they review to see whether or not it meets the criteria,” Hall said. “They get together as a committee and they makes the decision and submit it to me and I either agree or disagree. I don’t think I disagreed with any this year.”
This year’s ceremony had six categories of awards for employees of the Police Department, and four for citizens. In total, 32 Police Department employees received awards and six citizens were honored.
Awards ranged from certificates of appreciation to the Officer of the Year award.
One award was the Police Heart, given to an officer injured in the line of duty. There were two recipients this year who received the injuries in the same incident.
The officers, Charles Glumb and Kristi Lysik, responded to an incident where a man was stranded in cold temperatures. As the officers approached, the man turned aggressive and bit both officers. The officers fought with the man and eventually subdued him and got him medical attention.
“It’s not every year that we hand out a Police Heart Award,” Hall said. “All the officers just know when it’s deserving.”
Hall thought that there were more people at this year’s ceremony due to the fact that more awards were handed out than normal.
Township Manager Frank Walsh took in the ceremony for the first time.
“I’ve only been here 10 months, and we didn’t have these back where I was employed before,” Walsh said. “It’s an outstanding evening. It complements one of the best police departments in the state of Michigan. We have a great police department here and I am very proud of them.”