The Grove City Police Division recently recognized its top employees.

The Grove City Police Division recently recognized its top employees.

Officer Kert Lanam was named the division's 2014 Officer of the Year and dispatcher Tiffany Donaldson was named its 2014 Civilian Employee of the Year, during the Grove City Police Division's annual awards banquet held March 18.

The pair was nominated by their peers and selected by an awards committee made up of a cross section of personnel in the department, said Capt. Jeff Pearson.

"It's pretty exciting," Lanam said of the award. "It's pretty humbling when you've been here that long."

Lanam, 53, has been with the department for more than 27 years and has been a school resource officer for the past 13 years at Central Crossing High School.

Before that, he served for two years as a school resource officer at Grove City High School -- an assignment that started as fill-in duty.

"A couple of weeks turned into a couple of months, which turned into a couple of years, which turned into a career," he said. "I call this school (Central Crossing) my school and these kids my kids."

While working with hundreds of students a day is a challenge, Lanam said he's enjoyed a lot of good interaction with the students, built on trust and communication.

"You definitely build up a trust with the kids," he said. "It's a good liaison between youth and police. ... They see police officers are human."

That interaction, Lanam said, is rewarding.

"I've had students come up to me seven, eight years after they've graduated and say they became a police officer or turned their life around," Lanam said. "If you reach a handful of kids a year, it's well worth it."

Lanam also was selected for the honor because of work he did outside of Central Crossing. Last summer, he headed up the division's Retail Theft Interdiction Program, a pilot program partnering Grove City police with various business' loss prevention offices to deter shoplifting,

"All of it was Kert's initiative in order to make that happen," Pearson said. "It worked out very well, catching a lot of shoplifters."

Lanam lives in Grove City with his wife, Linda. They have five children and 11 grandchildren, with a 12th on the way.