City celebrates clerk's golden achievement

50 years with police earn her title of honorary officer

August 05, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Jeanne T. Dandy received three standing ovations from a crowd of Baltimore police commanders and civilian employees last week for a longevity record that even Cal Ripken Jr. would envy.

While most of those being honored were celebrating 20 or 30 years on the force, the central records unit clerk was marking her 50th year with the Baltimore Police Department.

"It's remarkable," said Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris, who bestowed the title of honorary police officer on Dandy during the ceremony Friday. "It's a pleasure to have her around. They don't seem to make people like this anymore."

Dandy, 75, who joined the force eight years before Norris was born, says she is not sure why she took a job with the department in 1952. But the Timonium resident knows why she has stayed, spending most of her career in the central records unit, digging through reports and warrants for officers.

"It's wonderful," Dandy said of the department. "Everybody is so nice. They are always willing to help you."

Norris, Mayor Martin O'Malley and top police commanders heaped praise on the shy clerk during the hourlong ceremony at the War Memorial Building near City Hall.

"Dandy - what a great name for a woman who has stuck this out for 50 years," O'Malley said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. "You all should have that goal."

A police honor guard escorted her to the stage, where she was presented with a citation from the patrol division honoring her service, a gold broach, a clock, a parking pass giving her one of the best spots in the departmental garage and the honorary title of police officer.

"Most struggle and count the days to 30 years" in the department so they can retire, said Daniel S. O'Connor, chief of the human resources division. "To pass that by 20 years? She is a remarkable woman."

Dandy was born and raised in Baltimore and graduated from Seton High School in 1943. She earned a bachelor's degree in French from the College of Notre Dame in 1947. She considered studying for a master's degree in the language in Quebec, but became a social worker instead.

She began her department career working as a clerk for the police academy, but wanted to try something else after 15 years. So, she joined the central records division as a clerk. That was long before the department began using computers to track records and reports; Dandy would comb through files by hand.

Although she was one of the first trained to use computers in 1973, Dandy eventually requested to return to the unit's front desk, where she continues to help officers find reports and warrants. Officers, co-workers and supervisors say she is a stellar employee.

And, it seems, Dandy has no plans to retire. "I'll be 125 when I finish my next 50 years," she said.

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