Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird today will present the Mayor's Award of Excellence for April to Officer Alayna Kechely with the Lincoln Police Department's southwest team. The award will be presented at 3 p.m. at the beginning of the City Council meeting at the County-City Building, 555 S. 10th Street. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City.
Kechely was nominated in the categories of customer relations and productivity by Sergeant Tarvis Banks for her actions in dealing with a crime victim.
Last December, Kechely assisted with a call in which an intoxicated female was trespassing near a business. Kechely recognized the woman from previous calls and placed her into civil protective custody. The officer noticed that she had bruises around her neck and discovered that the woman had been potentially assaulted and strangled by an ex-boyfriend and was possibly a victim of sex trafficking.
Kechely adjusted her work schedule so she could take the woman to the Victim Assistance Unit for more questioning and to inform her of resources available to her. As advocates from other agencies arrived to help, Kechely patiently encouraged the victim to accept assistance, and eventually enter the Crisis Center.
Elizabeth McQueen, Victim Assistance Unit supervisor, wrote that the situation was intense, exhausting and full of obstacles, even with the presence of a strong community resource response.
"Because the woman struggled to comprehend everything and because of her deep-seated distrust of everyone, she was frequently defiant and demanding," McQueen wrote. "Most people would have looked at her and seen an adult who was uncooperative. Kechely saw beyond that and recognized a very scared woman acting with the mentality and communication skills of a child. She treated her with patience, dignity and kindness."
McQueen said the woman is alive, sober and safe today because of Kechely's actions, noting that Kechely spent her day off at the Crisis Center to help staff assess the best options for the woman. McQueen said the victim does not have a strong support system, "but she knows that some people can be trusted because one officer tirelessly took the time to listen and care."
Sergeant Banks said Kechely's additional effort led to the arrest of the suspect who is awaiting trial. He wrote, "Officer Kechely's compassion and determination to work with this vulnerable victim is exemplary, and something we all should continually strive for as police officers."
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are safety and valor. Consideration also may be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee's job description. All City employees are eligible for the award except for elected and appointed officials. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the public. Nomination forms are available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: hr) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Human Resources Department, which oversees the awards program.
All nominations are considered by the Mayor's Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $50 gift certificate, a day off with pay and a plaque. All monthly winners and nominees are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $250 gift certificate, two days off with pay and a plaque.