Last weekend, at their annual gala, Commander Mike Haefele was honored as a 2022 Community Star by Rotary International. The theme of the awards this year was ‘Service Above Self’.
Commander Haefele is the longest-serving officer within the Erie Police Department. Before the streets were paved, in 1997, ‘Officer Mike’ joined the force as a reserve officer. In his 24 years, he has been awarded the Life-Saving Medal, four Police Merit Awards, the Community Service Award, Leadership Award, and 12 Department certificates. He has been recognized as the Employee of the Year thrice. “Commander Haefele has had a tremendous impact on our community and fellow officers,” said Deputy Chief Lee Mathis.
Throughout his rise through the ranks (reserve, officer, sergeant, commander) he has initiated many firsts for the department and Town alike. Hafele was the first DUI instructor, the first drug recognition expert, created the first crash reconstruction, and began the Department’s first peer support team. Among organizing town fairs, homecoming events, concerts in the parks, and a multitude of other community events, he organized ‘Storytime with Officer Mike’ at the library and the department’s Nextdoor and Ring social media accounts, all with the goal of service above self.
In his tenure, he has served as a field training officer for new recruits, as an instructor in arrest control tactics, driving, and the Intoxylizer breath analyzing instrument. These days, Commander Haefele teaches DUI enforcement to prospective officers in the police academy.
“His positive impact on the Town is beyond measure,” said Erie Rotary President Andy Carter.