Community outreach and a continuous commitment to safety have earned a Delaware police officer the title of Ohio Crime Prevention Practitioner of the Year.
The Ohio Crime Prevention Association awarded officer Rita Mendel with the honor Friday, June 28.
Mendel, who has been with the department for 23 years, became a crime prevention officer in September 2001. She was certified as a crime prevention specialist in 2005 and recently received advanced certification.
Mendel was recognized by the association for the proactive and collaborative roles she's taken on throughout the community.
She has been the Safety Town coordinator since 2002, and in 2003 she founded the Citizen Police Academy, which she also coordinates. Under Mendel's guidance, the more than 200 residents who have completed the academy became part of an alumni association that donates more than 1,000 hours of service every year.
As a member of the Safe Kids Safe Communities Coalition, Mendel works on Click it or Ticket, Drive Sober, bike safety and texting-while-driving campaigns. She also is a member of the Multi-Agency Crisis Intervention Team.
Last year, Mendel partnered with Keep Delaware Beautiful and the Eastside Neighborhood to combat graffiti by sending out letters to residents and organizing volunteers to ensure paint was cleaned up.
"We are a safer city because of Officer Mendel," Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski said in a press release. "Rita has the unique ability to reach out to community agencies and form partnerships to solve problems and prevent crime."