Amanda Westmoreland named DeRidder Police Officer of Year
Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2022
DeRidder Police Officer Cpl. Amanda Westmoreland has been named the department’s Police Officer of the Year, an award that Police Chief Craig Richard said couldn’t have gone to a more deserving officer.
“The city is better for having her in our department. We are all better for having someone as caring and with as big a heart as Cpl. Westmoreland, and who is just as incredibly focused and dedicated to making a difference in the community,” Richard stated.
When Westmoreland learned of her award, she said she felt immediately humbled, almost to the point of undeserving.
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“It was such an unbelievable moment for me. As I began to receive the congratulations and hear all these kind things that were said about me, I just didn’t know what to say. I was truly amazed because I know we have so many incredible officers throughout our department that I felt a little unworthy, but I’m truly very honored to have been selected,” Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland’s time with DeRidder PD goes back even longer than her official career.
Her grandmother, Doris Mitchell, worked with the department for more than 20 years as the secretary to the chief. In 1999, as her grandmother retired, Westmoreland began working in the police department’s records division and later moved to dispatch.
In 2012, Westmoreland moved to the Leesville Police Department where she worked as secretary to the police chief, following in her grandmother’s footsteps. In 2013, she graduated from the Law Enforcement Academy in Alexandria and in 2017, she moved back to DeRidder PD where she began working in the patrol division.
In 2019, she made the move to become a School Resource Officer. It was a change of pace that she admits she felt a little hesitant about, but she immediately surprised herself by how well she fit in to the role.
“I was a little unsure because I know sometimes officers are not taken as seriously as we are when we are out on patrol; but let me tell you, I love this job. I truly love it. I love the kids and I love being able to feel like I have made a difference in their lives,” Westmoreland stated.
She said not only does she feel rewarded by the impact she might be making in the lives of the students she sees daily, but those children also make a difference in her own life.
“When I go into the elementary schools, sometimes I will bring little treats and give out hugs. The kids love it, but they have no idea that they are helping me way more than I am helping them. They just recharge me with their little hugs and cute comments each time I see them. It has changed me for the better,” she said.
While some might applaud her for also representing females behind the badge, Westmoreland said she chooses not to see gender in her job.
“We are all police officers here. We all have different things that we can bring to the circle, and we don’t see anyone different beyond that. If anything, I do appreciate being able to show that this is not only a man’s job, but really we all help each other and no one sees each other as a man or a woman; we see each other as equals and I think that is the greatest thing,” she stated.