Passionate about police work

Officer receiving award for on-duty, off-duty commitment

May 10, 2001|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

This is Jason Kindel at his best: Daddy and policeman and volunteer all rolled into one.

At Bollman Bridge Elementary School in Savage, Kindel is playing one recent day, hoisting the 3- and 4-year-old preschoolers in Bonnie Bricker's class for hugs. He regularly volunteers here; Kindel's almost-4-year-old twin girls are also in Bricker's class.

It's a far cry from his beat, from nabbing bad guys and getting drugs off the street in Whiskey Bottom - but not really. After all, Kindel is passionate about ridding the area of drugs because of the kids.

"They could fall back to my kids and everyone's kids," Kindel, a three-year veteran of the Howard County police force says.

It's that combination of on-duty and off-duty work, of dedication and teamwork and community involvement that made Kindel, 30, an ideal choice for the department's top honor - Police Officer of the Year - for 2000, department officials said.

Kindel will be honored tonight along with dozens of officers, civilian employees and citizens at the department's annual awards ceremony.

A commendations board made up of different ranks of police officers is in charge of selecting the officer of the year and other awards, said Howard County police Chief Wayne Livesay.

"I think Jason is probably the role model for current policing," he said. "Everything he does is very focused on the community and solving problems."

For Kindel, the honor is another pin to add to the complement of medals he's already assembled above the right breast pocket of his uniform. For 1999, he was the department's Community Service Officer of the Year. The year before, he received the First Year Service Award.

This year, he's already been named officer of the year by The Sun and the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and has been chosen to receive a crime prevention award from the Maryland Retailers Association.

Kindel, who started in police work with Baltimore in 1996, takes the honors in stride - and shifts the acclaim to his co-workers, who he says are instrumental to his own success.

"Fortunately, I get the awards, but unfortunately, not everyone on my squad gets them as well," he said.

Kindel is tireless in his investigation, in his contacts with the community - and in everything he does on the job, said Lt. Nancy Yeager, who supervises Kindel.

"He's always busy. He truly earns his money every day," Yeager said. "He doesn't just work the bad guys. He works the community."

Kindel amassed 127 criminal arrests and handed out more than 400 traffic citations in 2000, all while networking on his beat to gather intelligence to pass on for other officers and detectives to use in their own investigations, according to police.

During his off-hours, he volunteers at Bollman Bridge in his daughters' class, which includes several special needs students and where he's known as "Mr. Jason." And he frequently answers off-duty calls - 75 last year, according to police officials - stopping for stalled vehicles or to assist an officer without a backup, according to his wife, Mandi.

"He always stops. Always," she said.

Ask Kindel, who grew up in Poolesville, why he wanted to be a police officer and he's not quite sure how to answer. His grandfather was an Easton police officer and Poolesville is such a close-knit area that he knew many of its officers, he said.

He worked in security and in corrections before joining the Baltimore police force. After two years, he answered an ad for Howard County. Back then, he said, he was commuting from Poolesville to the city. The Howard County job reduced that commute. The Kindels have since moved to Savage.

Volunteering at Bollman Bridge - where 6-year-old Jason Jr. is a first-grader - has given him more quality time with his children, Jason Kindel said. At the same time, having Kindel in the classroom has been a boon for the preschoolers, Bricker said.

"The children who can understand that Jason is a police officer are getting a really good image," Bricker said. "When Jason comes in, the energy level rises. He sparks them up a bit. He just brings something nice to the group."

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