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Police officer recognized for ‘thinking outside the box’
For 20 years, Donna Main traveled throughout Western Washington and Oregon, working as an account representative for a food company.
But wanted something more in her life. She wanted a purpose.
So at age 43, she decided it was time for a career change. She wanted to become a police officer.
Three and a half years later, Donna is the recipient of the “Accommodation for Ongoing Community-Related Service” presented by American Legion Post 30 during a Feb. 4 ceremony at City Hall.
“I am truly honored and humble to receive it,” Donna said. “Just think, three years ago I was selling Chef Boyardee.”
Donna said she loves being police officer.
“I wake up every day ready for the day,” Donna said. “I’m blessed and so glad they took a chance on this old lady. I have always wanted to go into it (law enforcement) forever. The time at 43 was right.”
Donna said she is passionate about solving problems.
“Not always is solving the problem taking someone to jail,” Donna said. “I like to help people. I think there is hope for everyone — even those in jail”
The officer said when she is transporting a person to the county jail, she has five minutes with them in her patrol car.
“In that five minutes in my car, we talk about what we can change, how we can change, what resources are out there,” Donna said. “It’s my five minutes of being a mom and preach to them. It is not the end of the world. It just a moment in time and things can be changed.”
Police Commander Geoffrey Marti said Donna carried small rocks with her with the word “hope” on them.
He said he found out about the rocks when he asked Donna if there was any type of equipment she needed because there was some extra money left in the budget one year.
Marti said Donna replied she needed “rocks.”
He said he was shocked by her answer until she explained why she needed rocks. Donna takes small river rocks and writes, “hope” on the rocks to give to people for encouragement.
Marti told a group of about 30 people — including family and friends — a few of the examples how Donna has helped others in the community.
In September, Donna helped a woman who had her wheelchair stolen. Because there were so few leads, Donna contacted a local thrift store to find a wheelchair to replace the one stolen. The thrift store manager donated the wheelchair and they delivered to the woman.
“Once again, Donna was thinking outside the box,” said Marti.
Marti also cited letters from various people or groups thanking her for her professionalism and dedication.
Marti said the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team sent a letter to Police Chief Al Townsend praise Donna’s proactivity on drug enforcement.
“For that to catch the attention of a drug task force is really something,” Marti said.
During 2012, Marti recalled Donna using her emergency response training and saved a person’s life and she was also responsible, along with other officers, in shutting down drug operation at a local hotel.
American Legion Commander Al “Sonny” Coffelt thanked Donna for her service and presented the award.
“Sound like you were in the right place at the right time,” Coffelt said.
Gail Porter, Law and Order chairwoman for the Legion, said the Legion doesn’t give out the accommodation out every year.
“We only give it out when there is an officer who has done something amazing,” she said.
She said the Legion looks for officers who exceed duty requirements and for a pattern of community service.
Porter added Donna is being considered for state-level recognition by the American Legion.
Donna is a 1985 graduate of South Kitsap High School and played four years of basketball at Western Washington University in Bellingham. She received her bachelor’s degree in exercise science and sports psychology, and was an assistant coach at WWU for one season.
As a mother of two teen boys, Donna said her sons don’t see the police uniform, but they just see “mom.”
In the future, Donna will assist in training new officers joining the police department.