At The Brewhouse in Helena on Thursday, Montana Highway Patrol Sergeant Zach Freeman was awarded as the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Exchange Club.

Public Affairs Director Sergeant Jay Nelson has details of the event.

“Each year, the Helena Exchange Club recognizes a law enforcement officer of the year,” said Nelson. “This year, there have been a lot of officers who have risen to the top, but this one definitely went above and beyond, and that's MHP Sergeant Zach Freeman. He's been nominated as someone who went above and beyond, and so we presented the award to him for his duties and what he's done.”

Nelson detailed some of the reasons why Sgt. Freeman was worthy of the award.

“Sergeant Freeman is respected by all that know him for his compassionate and committed approach to law enforcement,” he said. “The unique thing about Sergeant Freeman is that he's a third generation law enforcement officer, and so it's been in his family. MHP Commander Colonel Lavin also said that on the road, Sgt. Freeman is definitely known as being proactive and positive both with his peers in the public.”

Nelson said for his performance in the Highway Patrol, Freeman recently received a promotion.

“Now he's been promoted to sergeant, and he has the privilege to teach and mentor all of our new Academy classes,” he said. “I think that played a role into his promotion, as well as who he was on the road as being compassionate, professional and for presenting a positive image of the Montana Highway Patrol.”

Nelson, who himself has had a long career in law enforcement, provided his perspective in dealing with the public, after being asked about how law enforcement in general has come under scrutiny and harsh criticism across the USA.

“In my 22 years in law enforcement, I've had to issue a lot of citations,
said Nelson. “I've had to arrest a lot of people. One of the most coveted folders I have in my office is my thank you notes. Some of those thank you notes come from people that I actually had to arrest. I think law enforcement in general, if we put our best foot forward each and every day, especially in the great state of Montana, the people recognize that and realize we have some great law enforcement officers in our state, and we're going to keep it that way.”

Each year, the Helena Exchange Club recognizes a law enforcement officer of the year and a firefighter of the year. The club reaches out to respective agencies to nominate someone from within their ranks who is doing outstanding work.


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