The family vacation to Hawaii for Lee’s Police Sgt. Rod Schaeffer is probably well-earned and long overdue.
Schaeffer, his wife, Joy, and their two children (ages 16 and 13), in-laws and other family members from out of state are spending 10 days in Hawaii to close out the year and bring in the new one. The vacation started Dec. 27, just two weeks removed from Schaeffer being named the city of Lee’s Summit’s Employee of the Year.
“I have to tell you, I was extremely surprised,” Schaeffer said of the honor. “I didn’t see that coming. It is good to be recognized by the city.”
A 21-year veteran of the Lee’s Summit Police Department, Schaeffer was recognized for his work developing a training program for city employees in response to workplace violence. Schaeffer volunteered a large amount of his free time in developing and delivering the program to several different city departments.
“Again, I had no expectations; the goal of doing this was not for any accolades or praise or anything like that,” Schaeffer said. “The goal with the training was to make sure everyone goes home.”
A trained tactical officer, Schaeffer also does consulting work for workplace violence programs around the country. Putting the program in place within the city was a testament to Schaeffer’s commitment to public safety in Lee’s Summit.
“It’s a contemporary issue that is facing every community,” said Scott Lyons, a captain with the LSPD that was recently named interim police chief upon retirement of current Chief Joe Piccinini on Jan. 17. “However, Lee’s Summit is more prepared than other communities. (Schaeffer) has provided us the opportunity to integrate the education of the public with officer and firefighter training to a degree that makes us sustainable more prepared.
“Sgt. Schaeffer probably is one of the more dedicated public servants that I have ever had the privilege of serving next to. He truly cares about providing excellence everyday that he comes to work.”
The training sessions for city employees came with the blessing of Piccinini and Lyons.
“With all of the recent (violent workplace) incidents, I said ‘we really need to give back to the city,’ for the lack of a better term,” Schaeffer said. “We kind of put together a plan and got it approved.”
Asked how he juggles professional life as an officer with his outside consulting work and duties of a husband and a father, Schaeffer deadpanned.
“Usually I work all day and I work all night. My family is very open to what I do; they know that it’s a passion. My wife is also a firefighter paramedic for the city so we both have those types of jobs. Everybody is pretty happy we are going on vacation finally this year.”
A runner, Schaeffer said he has his eyes set on some the beaches of Hawaii.
“I’m not going to lie,” he said, “I’ll be glad to run on the beach.”