by Paul Rignell
Sherburne County Sheriff’s Deputy Roxanne Schreder will celebrate four years of work in the county tomorrow.
As she returns Monday for the new week and a new year, she has a new honor to add to her wall of accomplishments. Nominated by her peers in Sherburne County, Schreder was named “Deputy of the Year” by the Minnesota Crime Prevention Association at its annual conference Oct. 17–18 in Brainerd.
“Being nominated was an honor in itself, knowing that my work here is acknowledged,” she told the Star News.
Growing up and graduating high school in Royalton, Minn., north of St. Cloud, Schreder began her career by completing a four-year degree in criminal justice through St. Cloud State University. After completing a required 10-week skills course at Alexandria Technical College, she returned to Royalton and accepted work as a part-time dispatcher and correctional officer for Morrison County. She helped get her name and abilities known nearly literally across the state when she took another part-time job working water patrol for Washington County while still living and working in Morrison County.
“When you’re trying to find a full-time job, you kind of go wherever you can to find experience,” she said.
She eventually found that full-time job as an officer with the Big Lake Police Department, where she worked 10 years before joining the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office.
Through four years with the county, Schreder’s crime prevention work has brought her into contact with everyone from preschool-aged children to area great-grandparents. “They all bring something where I can learn from them, and possibly they can learn from me in order to be safer,” she said.
Starting in the spring of 2009, Sherburne County introduced a K.I.D.S. Choice program (Kindness, Intelligence, Decency and Safety) for which Schreder wrote the curriculum. The 12-week series on topics including drug awareness, bullying prevention and Internet safety has been presented to fifth-grade students at four schools in the county by school liaison officers and county investigators.
As part of Schreder’s work with the S.A.L.T. (Seniors And Law Enforcement Together) advisory council, she arranges guest home safety presentations for an annual spring Senior Day Out for elder residents. Each August, working with the Elk River Senior Activity Center, she coordinates a golf outing where senior participants are paired for tee times with law enforcement officers from the county or participating cities. “(Roxanne) has been a real joy to work with,” said Sue Kostanshek, activity center director. “She’s very thoughtful.”
One of Schreder’s more recent projects has involved seniors of a different sort, as she has brought the sheriff’s office, the county attorney’s office, the Elk River Police Department and Elk River High School together to instill leadership in a select group of 12th-graders at the school for the benefit of all students. “She’s the bond between all four of these groups,” said Principal Terry Bizal about Schreder and the TIES peer mentoring program (Together Inspiring Education and Success) that took root at ERHS in the fall of 2010.
Five high school seniors were chosen last year and five more were selected this year for training on how to educate their peers on the dangers of drug abuse and social networking among other topics. Bizal explained that from September through December, all other seniors at the school attend one 20-minute program on traffic safety that is planned and presented by one of their student TIES leaders. One leader meets with 40 fellow seniors at a time.
The TIES leaders also present an initial 10-minute program to all freshmen on the risks of truancy. If any student through the course of the year appears to have a chronic truancy problem, a TIES leader will be appointed as a peer counselor — but only with permission from a parent of the at-risk student — to advise the fellow student of the lasting effects that missing school can have on academics.
When that message comes from a peer, “it is better received than it is from a parent or other adult,” Bizal said.
He said further of Schreder and her work with the high school students: “Her preventive techniques are applicable, and the kids really resonate and understand them.”
When back at her desk, not advising those students or greeting senior citizens, Schreder is often applying for grants to support these programs and many others. Her proficient pursuit of grants has made it possible for the members of 28 Neighborhood Watch groups in the county to take free classes in CPR and first aid. Her grant work has also allowed the formation of a Safe Roads Coalition, designed to build public awareness that incidents of impaired driving and speed-related crashes have been higher in Sherburne County than the statewide averages.
Schreder told the Star News she was planning to represent the county at the Brainerd conference this month even before learning of her nomination. She returns with information that is new to her and useful to be shared with other residents.
One interesting session this year focused on how Facebook users can endanger themselves by uploading photos that they have shot with smartphones. Though invisible to the naked eye, encrypted data in those photos can include GPS coordinates from the smartphones that would allow other people to learn where the uploader may be living or visiting.
That could be particularly dangerous for someone who has been victimized by domestic violence, Schreder noted.
She said that since joining Sherburne County, she has missed just one of the crime prevention conferences, which came shortly following the birth of her youngest son. Roxanne and her husband, Andy, a building inspector, live in Baldwin Township with their three sons, ages 8, 6 and 3. “It’s a busy household. We’re very blessed,” she said.