Safety Town officer to retire
Officer Anna has taught safety to thousands of kids
For the last 15 years, the kindergartners of Westlake have been lucky enough to learn from, and come to love, Community Service Officer Anna Cavender of the Westlake Police Department. Through her work as the administrator and head instructor of Westlake Safety Town and as a Westlake Schools bus driver, she touched many lives.
“I’ll miss the kids most, they’re so cute and they love to learn; they’re like sponges,” said Cavender, reflecting on the nearly 5,000 youngsters she has taught in Safety Town. Many of her past students have returned as student volunteers with the program, giving back to teach the next generation.
The program teaches many aspects of safety to children getting ready to enter school. The classes include street safety, what to do in case of a fire, gun safety, and how to respond in people emergencies. The kindergartners are taught their name, address and phone number, plus how to dial 911.
“This is the perfect age to teach them because there’s a lot of negativity about police officers, this a good age that they can learn to respect and trust police officers,” Cavender said. The safety lessons are important as children leave the nest for kindergarten. “Now that they are getting separated from their parent’s watchful eye, they have to start making decisions on their own, especially in regard to strangers, identifying who and what is a stranger,” Cavender added.
The Safety Town program is popular in Westlake but also draws students from surrounding communities and beyond. “We have people coming from out of state to attend our Safety Town. Last year we had a family from Las Vegas, and this year we have families from Colorado and Maryland. I’ll also be teaching my granddaughter from North Carolina in a session this year.”
This summer marks Cavender’s 16th year running the program and her last. She is thrilled to be retiring from the police department and moving to North Carolina in December to be closer to her children and grandchildren. Nonetheless, she will miss the generations of youth she taught and transported in Westlake.
Officer Anna, as she is known by the youth in her programs and on her Westlake City School bus, was sworn in as a Community Service Officer for the Westlake Police Department on July 6, 2000. In addition to her duties running Safety Town, she patrolled the streets of the city helping those in need, including people who locked keys in their cars, ran out of gas, or needed directions.
Officer Anna also helped keep the regular police officers safe by blocking roadways and directing traffic during accidents and other emergencies. Furthermore, she has always done all her duties with a smile on her face. Throughout her years, Cavender received accolades from both the public and her fellow officers. Repeatedly, she has been commended for being “upbeat and kind,” and for going “above and beyond” what was expected.
Anyone who has contact with Officer Anna knows she is upbeat, friendly, and professional. The kids, no matter what age they are now, flock to her. The parents respect and appreciate all she has done to teach and mentor their families. Her co-workers appreciate her bubbly attitude and willingness to do what needs to be done without hesitation.
As indicated by her honor at “Real Heroes Night” during a Lake Erie Monsters hockey game, Officer Anna should be commended for her work with both young and old. She will be missed by the citizens and employees of Westlake but her family will be richer having her close by.