Volunteer receives police award

by Sarah McKenzie

It’s almost like winning an Oscar.
At least that is how Tammy Semple put it after the University Police Department honored her with their community service award Tuesday evening.
As a resident and program director at the Commonwealth Terrace Cooperative — a community of University students and their children on the St. Paul Campus — Semple has made it her mission to promote safety for the 525 children who live at the cooperative.
“It was really emotional to be honored by the chief of police,” Semple said. “The police are sending strong positive messages to the kids over here.”
University Police Chief Joy Rikala and Marianne Olson, a University Police detective, presented the award at the cooperative. Rikala said the department honors citizens a few times a year, but usually the recipient is acknowledged for aiding the police on a single occasion.
Rikala said Semple is particularly outstanding because she has developed a long-standing relationship with the police.
“She is the consummate neighborhood volunteer; one of the most outstanding we have worked with,” Rikala said.
But Semple said she cannot take all the credit for the award — her supervisor and the police have facilitated and inspired many of her community-building ideas.
Semple has spearheaded efforts to increase bike patrol in the neighborhood during the State Fair — a particularly hot time for crime. Semple also called for the police to make picture identification cards last spring for all of the children in case they got lost or kidnapped.
“She really has been an active participant in doing what she can do to prevent crime,” said Olson.
Doreen Thompson, general manager at the cooperative, said Semple is the first employee to regularly receive complementary e-mail and positive feedback for her work.
Much of her work goes above and beyond her job description, Thompson said.
“Tammy has the ability to draw people together,” Thompson said. “She always gets a huge turnout.”
Semple has lived at the cooperative for one year along with her husband — who studies French and Italian — and their two-year-old daughter. Semple is expecting a baby in March.
The cooperative houses individuals from more than 70 countries. Only 20 percent of the residents are from the United States. The culturally diverse atmosphere is the perfect environment for her to raise children, Semple said.
Born in Boston, most of Semple’s family worked for the city and always stressed the importance of public service, she said.