ST. MARYS — A Wapakoneta resident was honored Saturday night for her dedication to the field of law enforcement and her community.
Members of the Auglaize County Fraternal Order of Police presented Mary Wagner with its law enforcement officer of the year award. Wagner, who has worked for the Ohio Adult Parole Authority for 18 years as a parole officer, said she did not expect her name to be called during Saturday’s ceremony.
“I was in shock,” Wagner said. “It was a big surprise to me. I had no idea I was even nominated. It’s very humbling to have your peers recognize you.”
A Wapakoneta High School graduate, Wagner is active in FOP activities as well as her church — Harvest Church in Wapakoneta. After high school, Wagner attended Bowling Green State University.
As a parole officer, Wagner said every day of her job is different. It’s that aspect that she enjoys the most.
“You might think your day might consist of one thing and then another thing can happen to change your whole day,” Wagner said. “There are just new challenges and people to meet and help along the way.”
Each year, the FOP hosts the Shop With A Cop program, which pairs local needy families with local law enforcement officials. Wagner said it’s programs like Shop With A Cop that she hopes casts local law enforcement in a different light.
“A lot of our work is not always viewed in a positive light, especially by the people we deal with,” Wagner said. “We do have opportunities to help impact people’s lives and hopefully we give them a more positive opinion of law enforcement. I think a lot of it is the way we treat people when we go out, that’s why I got into the job — to help people and impact lives.”
FOP President Mark Ernst said it was Wagner’s community service that helped move her to the top of the list.
“She’s been an integral part of moving the FOP forward,” Ernst said. “When we wrote the rules for officer of the year, we placed a big emphasis on community service because so much of what we do is viewed in a negative light that we want the community to know we care about them and support them.”