By Reggie Connell/Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles published by The Apopka Voice in 2018 that were the most noteworthy events of the year. The Apopka Voice will publish them starting today and running until Sunday, December 30th. On December 31st and January 1st, we will publish a poll and let the readers decide on which story is the most impactful of the year.
Originally published January 22nd, 2018
For a small news site like The Apopka Voice, access is everything. For us to write about a department, organization, person or administration, there has to be a relationship, a trust, and an ability to communicate back and forth.
No one understands this better than the Apopka Police Department, and no one is more intentional to keep the media in the loop than Officer Jason Wiggins.
For the third straight year, I received an invitation to the APD’s awards ceremony. It is always an honor to attend, and a pleasure to write about, but having Wiggins win Officer of the Year was a welcome surprise to the night’s events.
Wiggins didn’t win Officer of the Year because he communicates well with the media. It’s just one of the many roles he has played and is playing for the APD.
Here is what his peers wrote about him in the Awards Ceremony Program:
“The Apopka Police Department named Jason Wiggins as the 2017 Officer of the Year at its annual awards ceremony on Friday.
Wiggins has been an officer with the APD for 18 years. During his tenure, he has worked as a Patrol Officer, Bike Officer, School Resource Officer, and Patrol Division Corporal.
But Wiggins has shined in is his current position as Community Policing Officer.
As the agency liaison to the Apopka Citizens Police Academy, Wiggins breathed new life into the program re-energizing the membership, working with the board to utilize the members and grow the community events the CPA has been supporting and participating in.
As Community Policing Officer, Wiggins took to the streets and went to businesses in and around the city, introducing himself and gaining a rapport with the community. Since doing so, he was able to bring in over $10,000 in donations for the annual “Shop with a Cop” event. Unfortunately, he was hospitalized and unable to attend the event, but he continued directing his vision from his hospital bed. The Shop with a Cop event sponsored 100 children, which was an agency record.
Wiggins takes no credit for his hard work and most people would never know the amount of planning he puts into every event he works. His humility and quiet ego is never shown but is worthy of recognition.
In addition to his current position, Wiggins is an agency Range Master instructing new recruits and managing the firearms training throughout the department. Wiggins thoroughly enjoys the training aspects of his responsibilities.
He has been an integral part of the SWAT since 2006, continuing as a Team Leader tasked with organizing, assisting with training, planning, mission deployment, and operations.
Wiggins is more than worthy than this award and it is a delight for everyone who works with him to see his recognition.”
Michael McKinley, Chief of the APD, also recognizes Wiggins’ value to the agency.
“Officer Wiggins is an outstanding member of the Apopka Police Department,” McKinley said. “He is always professional and a pleasure to be around. He works hard every day and since becoming the agency’s Community Outreach Officer, he has done a tremendous job partnering with our community. Jason has expanded and/or enhanced our community outreach programs which helps foster our relationships with the citizens of Apopka. His hard work and dedication to the Apopka Police Department and the citizens make him very deserving of this recognition.”
Congratulations Officer Wiggins and thanks again for all you do for this community, and for keeping The Apopka Voice in the know about the APD.