The annual Sunnyside Police Department Christmas party typically includes more than just a festive holiday atmosphere for members of the local police force. It also serves as a place to honor certain members of the department for their hard work and dedication over the last year.
Seven members of the police force were recognized during the Dec. 18 event, with awards presented, including Officer of the Year, Supervisor of the Year, Dispatcher of the Year, Correction Officer of the Year, Reserve Officer of the Year and the Eli O'Brien Memorial Award.
This year's Officer of the Year honors were presented to Kent Coffman, who has been a member of the local department for the past 12 years. This is Coffman's first year working in the traffic division.
Coffman, who serves as the department's motorcycle officer, said spending time on the new police vehicle is one of the things he seems to enjoy most about the new position.
Coffman is a Kansas native, who started his work in the field of law enforcement through an intense internship with the Sheriff's department in Pottowatomie, Kansas. For Coffman, being involved in some aspect of law enforcement or corrections was something he had been interested in for awhile. He said entering college he wanted to study to become a federal parole officer, however after interning with the local sheriff's department that idea changed.
"Somehow I decided law enforcement was the thing," Coffman said.
As for how a Kansas native came to be a member of the Sunnyside Police Department, Coffman explained that he helped a friend relocate to the Yakima area to work at what was then Saint Elizabeth's hospital, and since he was here he decided to see if there were any job openings in the area.
"I had just graduated and needed a job," Coffman explained, noting that law enforcement positions seemed to pay more in Washington than they did in Kansas.
Coffman, who is married to Miriam and has a 2-year-old son, Kent Jr., said he has enjoyed his time with the local department, and especially enjoys the feeling of doing something good for the community.
Other officers receiving awards were Andrew Gutierrez and Joe Guillen who shared the Supervisor of the Year award, Jeff Cunningham who received the Eli O'Brien Memorial Award, Mary Flores for Dispatcher of the Year, Rem Campos for Corrections Officer of the Year, and Larry Scherer for Reserve Officer of the Year.
. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org