The community is all the better for the dedication and hard work of this Glendale cop.
By Mary O’KEEFE
It has been a pretty good, albeit busy, year for Glendale Police Officer Joe Allen.
In 2013 Allen, a 24-year veteran of the GPD, was awarded the Enrique Camarena Award, both regional and national, and was also the recipient of the Alfred E. Stewart Award.
Enrique Camarena was an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency working undercover narcotics in Mexico when he was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 1985. His death hit his hometown of Calexico, Calif. hard, but out of the tragedy was born Red Ribbon Week.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks established the Enrique Camarena Award. Each year a committee composed of members of the Elks, many of who are former law enforcement officers, and the Camarena Foundation pore over hundreds of applications for the award.
“I was [nominated] into the California/Hawaii region of 176 lodges,” Allen said. “I was awarded the California/Hawaii states recognition.”
Then his nomination was passed on to the national level and he was chosen for the National Enrique Camarena Award. Camarena’s widow presented both the state and national awards to him.
“[It was an honor] to have met his family, to have met his widow and, having worked in that field of narcotics enforcement, I recognize the sacrifice that he made in the effort to reduce and eliminate drugs from society. My job was to give my complete effort to do the same,” Allen said. “Realizing he made the ultimate sacrifice, my long hours or days of investigation were little sacrifice to what he and his family made.
“I have never seen an [application] with so many recommendation letters,” Tim Jaeger, California Hawaii Elks Association, said in a CVW interview after the award was announced. “There were even a couple of letters from 18 year olds who spoke of how he had affected their lives. He blew the competition away.”
The Alfred E. Stewart Award 2013 Narcotics Officer of the Year is another recognition of Allen’s work and dedication in the field of narcotics enforcement.
“Ian Grimes nominated me for the recognition,” Allen said.
Grimes is a retired Glendale police officer and one of Allen’s mentors.
The award is in honor of San Bernardino Sheriff Lt. Alfred E. Stewart, who was the head of the county’s Regional Narcotics Task Force. He, along with California Highway Patrol Officer Wetterling, were shot and killed by Jerry Youngberg, a parolee out of Illinois. Stewart was one of the founding members of the California Narcotics Officers Association and the eighth president of the organization.
Allen was first chosen for the regional award and then went on to be awarded by the state as well.
The awardee is chosen by law enforcement members who work in narcotics enforcement including law enforcement agencies, judges, probation officers and district attorneys. They are Allen’s peers and understand better than most the dedication and sacrifice that is needed for the job.
Though Allen is humbled by the recognitions, the honors aren’t a surprise to those in the community who know him.
He is a community volunteer who is always willing to help and always available for kids. This Christmas season he helped deliver gifts to families through the GPD and Kiwanis where 27 families were helped, and 50 families through the Glendale Elks Lodge 289, of which he is the president.
He is also the major league division director of the Crescenta Valley Little League, a member of the Prom Plus organization, and vice president of the CV Alliance. He also is a volunteer and founding member of the Fire House youth center.
“Joe just made the Fire House more welcoming to come to,” said Anthony Stuart, 19. “He was able to hang out with kids, and not seem like an adult. He was always willing to help.”
Allen also volunteers with the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce as the entertainment director for Oktoberfest and organizes the chamber’s scholarship program.
“Having grown up in Kentucky, my dad coached little league, was a volunteer firefighter and a member of the city council,” Allen said of his volunteer spirit and commitment.
His dad was even able to secure an empty lot to build a baseball field.
It is this spirit and that he had good adult examples while growing up that inspires Allen to continue to volunteer and to reach out to help youth. Although with his job he can see the most negative side of the world, he is still optimistic.
“There are such positive and well and good intended youth out there,” he said. “The ones having issues are a smaller segment of society.”
He reaches out to those young people who need help by showing that he cares and by giving them a positive role model.
“I am very realistic in my approach; I am not overall pastoral. I don’t preach to them. I talk to them about the negatives from the [drugs and addiction],” he said.
Allen continues to volunteer in the community he loves, and inspires all that he meets.
“I feel whenever he comes to the Fire House he gives a good impression of what cops are to kids,” said Dylan Sylvester, 16, president of Prom Plus Club. “For Prom Plus, he is always there to help out at our events. He gives us support. That means a lot.”
Jacob Magana, then 18 years old, wrote in a letter that was sent to the Elks as a recommendation for Allen, “For any teenager in general being able to talk to any adult, especially a cop, is the hardest thing to do. [The] reason being that we feel that they would never understand us, and all they could really do is judge or send us to someone else if they don’t want to deal with our problem. “Not with Joe. His ability to get down to our level and take his own time to help anyone is what allows any kid or person to open up as if they’ve known him their whole life. “