RIO GRANDE — The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College Campus Police recently presented retired Campus Police Records Clerk Carolyn Berry with the Larry and Laura Rees Certificate of Excellence Award as the department’s third, and honorary, Officer of the Year.
Berry retired from Rio in August after a total of 14 years, with her most recent being nine consecutive years. University of Rio Grande Board of Trustee Larry Rees said he and his wife, Laura, appreciate the department’s dedication to serving the community and wanted to honor their excellence with this award.
“The campus police do a wonderful job, so I wanted to make sure we had some vehicle to recognize outstanding achievements within the department,” Rees said. “This goes to an officer who exemplifies the best qualities of the campus police and I am more than happy to amplify that achievement.”
The Campus Police Department makes many behind the scenes contributions to protect and serve Rio that students, employees and guests do not get the opportunity to see. Interim President Dr. Catherine Clark said she believes this award is an excellent way to honor their service to Rio and make sure those contributions are recognized.
“Our campus police department works every single day to serve and protect our students, employees and guests,” Clark said. “Recognizing that dedication with this Officer of the Year award is our small way of saying thank you for all they do. I’m so proud to honor Carolyn as this year’s recipient. During her many years at Rio, she has done so much work behind the scenes for our officers and students. While we will miss having her around campus, we all wish her a very happy retirement.”
Each year, the campus police department officers vote for the colleague they felt was deserving of the award by demonstrating leadership, courtesy and human compassion both in a uniform and out in the community. Campus Police Chief Scott Borden said the department unanimously voted for Berry for her dedication to the department and to the students.
“It’s a running joke in the department that Carolyn was the boss. She’s always been like a mother to the officers and the students. She made the parents feel confident that we’re going to take care of their students,” Borden said. “When you have a prestigious award like this, and all of the officers are willing to give up a year to honor Carolyn with a unanimous vote, it shows how respected she is by these guys and important she was to the department.”
Berry said she is grateful to receive this award because it encourages officers to continue striving to serve and protect their Rio community.
“It’s an honor to receive this award. Knowing the guys all voted for me made this experience very special,” Berry said. “I love working with the students. When they come in the office, they can be scared or in trouble and I liked being a kind of mother figure. It’s always been important to me to calm them down and try to get them to laugh before they leave the office so that visiting the campus police office is a good experience for them.”
The university presented Berry with a gift of an honorary uniform ribbon plaque. As an additional gift, Mr. and Mrs. Rees also commissioned a painting for Berry.