Broken Arrow police volunteer reaches more than 4,000 hours, will receive lifetime achievement award

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. - Natalie Cairns moved to Oklahoma from Massachusetts 13 years ago. At the time, she didn't know many people in the Broken Arrow area.

But with a passion for volunteering and a need to meet people, she began volunteering at the Broken Arrow Police Department nine years ago.

"This is my family," Cairns said. "They have become my family. Don't get me started."

Nine years ago, detectives did their own shredding and other office tasks, the department's crime prevention specialist and community liaison Lisa Ford said. But then, people in the department started thinking different.

"Why can't we get volunteers to come in and take over that task, then that would give them more time to solve crimes," Ford recalled.

"It seems so menial," Cairns said while shredding paperwork Monday. "But boy did it save a lot of people's time that we would stand here and we would do it for them."

Shredding, answering the phones, delivering mail, she does it all. Cairns wears a lanyard around her neck with several volunteer award pins attached to it. Tuesday, she will receive the highest volunteer honor the President gives out.

"It is going to be right there," she said, pointing to the spot on her lanyard she saved for it.

The President's Call to Service Award Lifetime Achievement Award will recognize Cairns' more than 4,000 volunteer hours at BAPD.

"It is exciting, it really is to know I did how many? You guys owe me money," Cairns said laughing.

She admits she has been working towards the award since she began volunteering. 

"I did. I said, if I'm here, if I'm alive, I'm going to get it," Cairns said. 

But moving back east soon to be with family, her time at the department is coming to an end. She already knows what she will miss the most. 

"The people," Cairns quickly answered. One of the reasons she came to the department in the first place. 

At Tuesday's Broken Arrow City council meeting, Cairns will be presented with her presidential award. The police department will present the council with a symbolic check for $259,783.11.

Ford said that is the amount the department has saved over the past year because of the department's volunteer workers.

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