Westlake D.A.R.E. officer bids farewell
As I write this it has been just over three months since my retirement from the Westlake Police Department. I worked for 34 years in law enforcement, starting with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Dept., then the Olmsted Falls Police Dept., and the last 26-plus years were with the city of Westlake.
As I look back I remember certain incidents and some extreme cases but mostly police work is about people. When high school students would ask me about being an officer, I would always tell them: If you can get along with people, if you can treat people with respect despite differences, you can be a cop.
The last 23 years of my career were spent in the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program. I instructed in the Westlake schools, both public and private. I had more than 16,000 students in that time, and again it was all about them. I tried to instruct them in a way that they understood the message and the messanger.
When I started during the 1991-92 school year, I never took a weapon into a school. That seems strange now but at the time it was a safety issue, "No Guns in School." All that changed after the Columbine shooting. I was trained as a school resource officer shortly after Columbine and spent the last 14 years at Lee Burneson Middle School as both D.A.R.E. and SRO. School shootings have become too commonplace in our society and SRO's are needed to help secure our schools.
I could list a variety of personal achievements but I won't do that. I am writing to say goodbye. I could not have had a better career or worked for a better city. The city of Westlake always treated me well and the members of the police department are outstanding individuals who are there to serve. The citizens of Westlake should be proud to live in this great city.The Westlake City School system is filled with outstanding people, teachers, administrators and support staff. It was my honor to work with them everyday.
I was asked what my future plans would be, I was hoping to return as a part-time officer to work in the schools but that is off the table and so as of now I have none. I would like to continue to work with kids, teenagers and keep instructing but at the moment I have no prospects. So I am enjoying my golf game, my softball league and working around the house. I wish well all of the people I worked with and had the opportunity to interact with, as I say perhaps not goodbye but ... See ya later.
Ptlm. Ken Delfing, Westlake Police Dept. D.A.R.E./School Resource Officer
(Retired March 15th, 2014)