Engage Douglas County honors Lawrence SRO, Perry-Lecompton student and Baldwin police with awards

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Engage Douglas County has recognized two community members and the Baldwin City Police Department with its three Engaged in Action awards for 2024.

The organization aims to reduce substance abuse and promote mental health primarily among youth through action, education and collaboration.

Its annual awards honor “individuals and organizations that demonstrate a profound commitment to reducing substance misuse, promoting mental health, and actively engaging in issues affecting the residents of Douglas County, including drug and alcohol use, suicide prevention, and other behavioral health concerns,” according to a news release announcing the awards.

The adult award winner is Lawrence police Officer James Browning, the school resource officer at Billy Mills Middle School. He is deeply involved with the Kansas Special Olympics organization, and he’s credited with instituting the “Handle with Care” program within LPD, according to the release.

The program notifies school employees if a student has encountered law enforcement at the scene of a traumatic event. No details are given so that privacy is protected, but it simply gives the employee a note to handle the student with care. These efforts demonstrate Browning’s “dedication to the safety and well-being of children in the Lawrence community,” according to the release.

The youth winner is Kelli Spreer, a Perry-Lecompton High School student. Spreer has been a member of Youth Empowerment and Prevention, or YEP!, for two years.

“Her dedication to spreading mental health and substance misuse awareness is evident through her participation in numerous events,” according to the release. “… Her passion for prevention and advocacy continues to grow, and we are confident she will achieve great things in the future.”

The organization winner is the Baldwin City Police Department, which “has shown exceptional dedication to engaging with the Baldwin City community across all age groups,” according to the release. “Their efforts in suicide prevention, domestic violence protection and abatement, and substance use education and prevention highlight their commitment to serving the community.”

The winners will be recognized during an award ceremony set for 1 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27 at the DCCCA Service Center, 1739 E. 23rd St. in Lawrence.

Learn more about Engage Douglas County at engagedouglascounty.org.

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Gray coneflower, Ratibida pinnata, is a long blooming native perennial whose name refers to the gray cone under the brown disk florets, here being visited by a bumblebee interested in their sweet nectar.


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