SHERIDAN — Sheridan Police Officer Howie Fitzpatrick was selected earlier this month as the Wyoming Elks Association Law Enforcement Officer of the Year at the organization’s annual state meeting in Cody.
A 12-year veteran of the Sheridan Police Department, Fitzpatrick was chosen for the award from a statewide field of nearly 20 candidates — all of whom had been recognized for their service at the local level.
Sheridan Elks Lodge Secretary John Mitchell said the award aims to recognize peace officers who often go unsung in the realm of public discourse.
“I think they do tremendous service to the community and they should be recognized for what they do,” he said.
As for Fitzpatrick specifically, he was nominated in large part for his role last year in planning a special day for a local 6-year-old boy with terminal brain cancer.
After becoming aware of Jacob Ahrens’ situation, Fitzpatrick took it upon himself to invite Ahrens to the police station and guide him through a day of activities that included a mock traffic stop and a visit to the police rifle range.
Ahrens succumbed to his cancer several weeks later. At a recent Elks event, his parents said his day with the Sheridan Police Department was one of the happiest of his life.
Aside from his work with the police department, Fitzpatrick is a longtime volunteer at Sheridan High School and Fort Mackenzie High School where he teaches self-defense and personal wellness.
Police Lt. Chris Dahmke said Fitzpatrick very much deserved the honor for being consistently willing to contribute to worthwhile causes.
“For (Fitzpatrick) to pick up the ball and do that, you wouldn’t expect anything less,” he said. “That’s just the way he is.”
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is a nationwide fraternal organization focused on promoting local philanthropic and charitable efforts.