YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : It was only a matter of time before the country caught up to Ramsey Patrolman Timothy Shoemaker’s commitment to kids and their families: He has been named the national D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year by the organization’s national chapter.
Ramsey Patrol Officer Timothy Shoemaker
“Two years ago, Tim was named New Jersey DARE Officer of the Year,” Ramsey Police Chief Bryan Gurney said. “At the time, I thought it can’t get much better than that. With the amount of talented officers in our country, this is the ultimate honor for the Borough of Ramsey, the Ramsey Police Department and Tim and his family.”
Shoemaker, 35, isn’t your ordinary cop: He has always been able “to see beyond” the rigors of patrol work, as he puts it, to the emotional needs of the entire community. The 15-year department veteran takes “protect and serve” to a different level, making it his life’s work to so whatever he can to prevent others’ lives from being destroyed — by either substance abuse or circumstances.
“To be recognized at this level is a truly humbling experience, particularly given the dedication that I know exists amongst my colleagues,” Shoemaker told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“I’ll admit that there’s also a bit of validation here,” he confessed. “My vision for this assignment was unrealistically ambitious from the start. Still, I committed myself to it and have pursued it relentlessly. While there’s much work left to be done, I appreciate this as an opportunity to reflect upon the unique achievements that my team has made.
“There is no doubt that we remain a country stubbornly burdened by the high costs of substance abuse. In this environment, it’s understandable that some of our community members have lost faith in DARE Officers like me. But I’ll never lose faith in them, and I’ll never stop fighting for their future.”
Small wonder that Shoemaker is so highly regarded in so many circles. He also has an eye-popping resume.
A member of MENSA, he founded and is president of Mpowered Parent, talking to parents and students nationwide about preventing substance abuse and related topics.
The Summa Cum Laude graduate also operates TimothyShoemaker.com , which offers a host of helpful tools — an accumulation of Shoemaker’s vast knowledge and experience — designed to help build the kind of self-esteem that makes it much easier for youngsters to avoid substance abuse.
Gurney called him “a one-man audio and video production team.”
Just last week, Shoemaker hosted this year’s local “D.A.R.E. Idol” competition (yes, like “American Idol”), an event he created to give 10- to 12-year-old youngsters a turn in the spotlight, at Don Bosco Prep.
Like many, Shoemaker says, “I’ve seen tragedy, suffered frustration and shouldered cynics. I’ve endured, because like you, I know that the solution to our problems lies in strength, fortitude and optimism.
“Fortunately, I’ve also found that our most meaningful efforts are fun, rewarding and incredibly uplifting.”
Shoemaker became an auxiliary officer on his 18th birthday. He helped develop a software program that gave FDU the ability to track incoming phone calls for police service. Once he became a full-fledged officer in Ramsey, he dove into D.A.R.E.
Shoemaker has established and headed up fishing derbies, pool parties, skate night and the annual kickoff dinner for the D.A.R.E. year, culminating in the “Idol” event.
What may distinguish him most is Shoemaker’s insistence that D.A.R.E. is more than an educational tool. He gets involved in the kids’ lives, he helps them and their families — he truly makes a difference.
As a result, the Ramsey D.A.R.E. program is one of the most successful around — with high levels of participation that have attracted outside funding.
Then there’s the fringe benefit: more people working with police to prevent and solve crime in town.
Shoemaker, who also teaches academy recruits at the Bergen County Institute of Law and Public Safety, has been honored by several organizations, including MADD/End DWI and Bergen’s own 200 Club. But, fitting with his personality, he cites a tree, accompanied by a plaque, at the Dater School in Ramsey, which was put there in honor of his work with the youngsters there.
“Someday, when I’m long gone, strangers and friends alike, and maybe a few dogs, will pass that plaque and remember the difference we’ve made here,” he said.
His chief has seen Shoemaker’s commitment day in and day out.
“Tim’s energy and tireless efforts to keep kids off of drugs and to resist violence cannot be questioned,” Gurney said. The department “is extremely proud of Tim’s accomplishments.”
The choice as the nation’s top D.A.R.E. cop “was not as difficult as previous years,” wrote Charlie J. Parsons, the president and CEO of D.A.R.E. America in Los Angeles. “Officer Shoemaker clearly distinguished himself from a field of deserving candidates.”
He will receive the prestigious award at the National D.A.R.E Conference in Memphis in late July .
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