When Airdrie resident Melissa Trotter attended the January 10 council meeting in Didsbury, the community peace officer was fully expecting to deliver a report to the council members about protective services. Instead, Didsbury's Mayor Rhonda Hunter presented Trotter with the Alberta Emergency Service Award Medal for 12 years of service.
Trotter, who is originally from Ontario and always had an affinity for both animals and the law, moved to Alberta after a fellow community peace officer alerted her to a part-time position in Didsbury. That position would become her full-time career a year or so later.
"The most rewarding part of the job, in all honesty, is that I'm either able to help someone with a concern they have or help someone be reunited with their pets," Trotter said.
One of the observers who watched Trotter receive her service medal, was Luana Smith, Didsbury's Manager of Legislative Services, who oversees municipal enforcement. Smith was not only the one who nominated Trotter for the medal but she was also responsible for hiring her in 2012.
"[This award is] so important because peace officers aren't often the ones getting recognized for something. They usually have people responding in anger because these officers are enforcing the law," she said. "Melissa, who loves this community, has dedicated 12 years to this community and it's really nice to give and recognize someone in such a positive manner."
As a community peace officer and the contract holder for animal control for all of Mountain View County, Trotter is responsible for not only enforcing bylaws, but she is also responsible for animal control and although she does love all manner of animals, she is allergic to them. And while the allergies can never keep her away from fulfilling her duties, she said there are challenges that come with her work. Trotter oftentimes does have to deal with residents who have either broken a bylaw or are in trouble and this is where tempers may flare.
"You learn to have to learn how to be able to speak calmly, even though someone [is [ yelling and screaming at you and calling you every name in the book. The other challenging thing would be going to properties where either I have to pick up a dog because the owner is deceased or I have to go to a property where there's a situation where it could be an animal that needs help."
Trotter did recollect that one of her most memorable calls was when she was three years into her role. She responded to a Border Collie that had been found east of Didsbury. After the dog was discovered to have a tattoo on its right ear, it turned out that the same dog had been reported missing two years ago. The owner of the dog had all but given up hope that her beloved pet would be found, but it was Trotter who called her with the good news.
Mayor Hunter, during her presentation of the service medal to Trotter, underlined that Trotter's exemplary service benefits the entire community of Didsbury. Luana Smith echoed the same sentiment.
"[The night Melissa receives her medal] I was just beaming. She's so deserving of this medal because she's done a lot and a lot that the council and the public don't know about."
The Alberta Emergency Services Medal (AESM) honours emergency services personnel who are involved in supporting emergency prevention, preparedness and response in Alberta, and who have committed 12, 22, 32, and 40 years of service. When asked if Trotter anticipates receiving perhaps another medal ten years from now, she said that while she isn't sure she will serve 40 years, she is sure of one thing.
"I think I'll keep doing the job until my body falls apart."
And while residents of Didsbury may know Trotter in her uniform, what they may not know is that she is also an avid artist who loves to dabble in cartooning.
Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org