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  • Karen Dandurant

Rochester NH police to honor community-minded officer in memory of Willis 'Red' Hayes

ROCHESTER — City residents are invited to nominate the police officer they think best represents community policing. Rochester Police Department Chief Paul Toussaint announced the department is accepting nominations for the Patrol Officer Community Service Award, also known as the Willis "Red" Hayes Community Ambassador Award. "The award has not been given for several years; I am not sure how far back," said Toussaint. "It seems to have fallen off for a bit."

According to the department, Red Hayes was a longtime Rochester patrolman, visible to all in the downtown area for more than 30 years, ending in the 1970s. "According to those that knew Red, he could get beyond the hard shell of life and reach to the spirit of a person," a city of Rochester post states. "His red face always showed a smile and his communication skills drew out the best in people. His style was to offer guidance, not provoke a hostile response. Red was a conscientious and supportive friend to all, while exercising his public duty to uphold the law."

In May, 2013, the award was given to Officer Tracy Hayes, no relation to Red Hayes. According to an article in Foster's Daily Democrat, Tracy Hayes was awarded the second annual Willis "Red" Hayes Community Ambassador Award at the Police Commission meeting. The award was first given to the now late Red Hayes, a city patrol officer who was known to many as the “friendly cop on the square.” Red Hayes served as a Rochester police officer from 1941 to 1973 before he died at the age of 68. The Red Hayes Community Ambassador Award, established by the Police Commission in 2012, is awarded to a patrol officer who best embodies Red Hayes’ qualities. Tracy Hayes was hired as Rochester’s first problem-oriented police (POP) officer in May 2010. She started a monthly Police Department newsletter, helped launch a retailers’ website against shoplifting, helped organize a job fair and organized the annual Wings and Wheels event at the Skyhaven Airport.

In 2015, recognized for his dedication to the community, Rochester Patrol Officer Jamey Balint became the fourth annual recipient of the Willis “Red” Hayes Community Ambassador’s Award. Balint, an 18-year veteran of the Rochester Police Department, was praised for his patrol work and recognized for becoming well known in the community.

The Community Ambassador’s Award may be given to a current patrol officer for his or her service in promoting and improving a positive community relationship. The nomination period is open until Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

There is history and criteria involved in choosing an honoree. The patrol officer should have earned the respect and admiration of the community through their good work as demonstrated by two or more of the following standards, according to a city post: Public testimony via correspondence to the department, i.e., thank you letters, phone calls, text messages, etc.; Testimony from a fellow officer who has observed the public response to his or her actions while on duty; A previous citation from the command and or a civic group; The officer exhibits some of the characteristics as listed below: Friendly interaction with the public so an individual feels special and respected in a criminal environment; Shows compassion for the situation; Outgoing, gregarious, and “stands out beyond the uniform;” Willing to rehab criminal behavior even on the spot; Can foresee the danger in a given situation and reduce the tension; Exhibits positive community spirit through his or her voluntary involvement in the community.

Any citizen and or member of the Rochester Police Department may recommend a candidate for this award. Annual nominations may be initiated by the Chief of Police and announced in the media, on public affairs channels, or during Police Commission or City Council meetings.

Link to Fosters article:

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