Retired police helper knows how to organize volunteers

LYNNWOOD — People kept asking Trudy Dana how to build a volunteer program like the one at the Lynnwood Police Department.

So she wrote a book: “Police Citizens Academy: The Complete Guide for Producing a Top-notch Community Program.”

She shared copies at a City Council meeting a few weeks back.

Dana, 67, of Edmonds, retired from the police department in 2011 after nearly two decades as a crime prevention officer and volunteer coordinator.

Lynnwood police have about 75 volunteers at any time, and they owe much of that to Dana, police spokeswoman Shannon Sessions said.

Over the years, Dana built strong programs and a dedicated volunteer force, Sessions said. Police volunteer coordinators still look to Dana for advice and guidance.

“She finds the good in people and the strengths in people and how they will fit,” Sessions said. “She just has such a strength and a skill and a heart for it.”

Dana always wanted to write a manual for developing police citizens academies but never had time while she was working, she said.

“It wasn’t just the police department, it’s the entire city that benefits from something like that,” she said.

The book is designed for community leaders, city and police officials, and interested folks at home, Dana said.

“We were always glad to share our information,” she said. “We probably talked to 100 different agencies. They kept saying, ‘Why don’t you get this all down on paper?’ It ended up being a 300-page spiral-bound manual. It’s everything, everything a city needs to know to put on a real, good, top-notch program.”

City Councilwoman Kerri Lonergan-Dreke is a long-time Dana fan.

Lonergan-Dreke went through Citizens Academy in the late 1990s, with Dana at the helm, she said.

The class made her want to get more involved with the city, and eventually inspired her to run for the council, she said.

With the city and police department budgets hurting in recent years, police volunteers provide a valuable service as extra eyes and ears, Lonergan-Dreke said.

“It’s pretty amazing because there’s not a lot of other cities in our area that I’m aware of that have that program,” she said. “What a great way to get citizens involved in the community.”

Council President Loren Simmonds encourages all city staff and residents to take Citizens Academy, he said. He found it enlightening.

Dana brought positivity and creativity to Lynnwood, and Simmonds was sad when she retired, he said. The programs Dana developed serve Lynnwood and surrounding communities, he said.

“Underneath that softspokenness about her, there is a depth of experience and knowledge,” he said.

Dana has an open secret though: Citizens Academy doubles as a recruiting ground for police volunteers.

“There were always stars in every group,” she said.

For more information about volunteering with Lynnwood police, call 425-670-5635 or email ctenney@ci.lynnwood.wa.us. Volunteering opportunities are available for all ages and abilities.

For information about Dana’s new book, including free lengthy excerpts, see her website, www.pcasolutions.net/.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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