BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — After 25 years wearing a Maumee Police Division badge, Wendy Newsome is retiring from service.
Often referred to as the “face of the department,” Newsome has played an integral role on the community side of policework. She has been a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer for 12 years. The program provides drug prevention education for fifth- and seventh-grade students. She is also the crime prevention officer for community events and runs the Safety City program for children entering kindergarten.
As the community outreach coordinator, New-some has also organized a senior citizens program that offers a check-in service for the elderly living alone in the community, and she spearheaded the community watch program that shows all calls for service on Google Maps.
Newsome joined the Maumee Police Division on September 7, 1995 and her official retirement date is Saturday, February 6. While she is looking forward to starting the next chapter in her life, Newsome said she will miss those in the community with whom she has interacted so readily.
“I will miss all of the amazing kids and students that I have bonded with through DARE and SAIL (the Substance Abuse Intervention League). My sincere hope is that they see me as a great role model and a positive influence in life,” she said. “I will miss the senior citizens, too. I did everything that I could to assist them with their needs and provide them a friendly face at the police department. A lot of times, they would reach out to me with a problem, no matter what that problem was, and I thought that was great.”
Most importantly, she said, she will miss those with whom she has worked and considers as her family.
“I will miss the camaraderie with my brothers and sisters in blue, because let’s be honest, we count on each other to be able to go home to our families safely at night and that is a huge bond,” she said.
Newsome spent her first nine years of duty on road patrol, working every shift in the department. In 2004, she became the DARE officer. Then, after four years, she returned to road patrol until 2013, when she was reassigned to the position of DARE officer.
She has received numerous awards, most notably the 2016 Officer of the Year award, and in September 2019, she was inducted into the National Law Enforce-ment Officer Hall of Fame as the recipient of the 2019 Community Impact Award.
Maumee Police Chief Dave Tullis said that Newsome has been a positive force on the department, especially for women.
“She has accomplished a lot and put a big footprint on the community with her community engagement,” Tullis said. “It’s gotten a lot better for females, but before, this was just considered a man’s job. I’m sure that women going through probably had a hard time, but because of what Wendy does and how she well handles herself, it makes it ridiculous to have ever thought that women could not do this job. She has opened doors for a lot of people, especially women, and has taken away the stigma or false stereotype.”
Newsome credits the training she received in the department along with her ability to effectively communicate for the confidence she needs to handle just about any situation she has encountered. In addition, at not much taller than 5 feet, what she lacks in stature, she more than makes up for in energy.
“I am small, but I never really looked at size as a problem,” she said. “Maumee has the best training and the best equipment you could imagine, and because of that, it gave me the peace of mind no matter what happens.”
For her, the greatest challenge of the job has been separating herself from her work when she goes home to her husband and two young daughters, ages 13 and 9.
“It’s trying not to let the things you see or experience change you as a person in a negative way and that is an everyday battle. The trick for me was changing up the job, getting into DARE and seeing the positive side – it kept me balanced.”
Newsome grew up in Toledo and attended Central Catholic High School. The excitement of policework lured her to earn an associate degree in law enforcement from The University of Toledo. Immediately following, she took the civil service test required for the Maumee department. At the time, she was 22 years old and among 109 vying for one of two open positions in the department.
Two days before her official retirement, Newsome will turn 48.
“I realize I am pretty young,” she said. “People keep asking me what I am going to do, and I really don’t know where life is going to lead me, but I am going to spend more quality time with my family – that I do know. My daughters are young and I want to be more involved in their lives.”