It is with great pride that the Dover Police Department and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge #1903 (Dover), announce that Master Corporal Keith Hester is the 2013 recipient of the coveted Enrique Camarena Award for the Maryland, Delaware, and District of Columbia district. The award is named after Enrique Camarena, a DEA Agent who was murdered by a Mexican drug cartel while investigating drug trafficking into the United Sates. Camarena was captured and brutally tortured by the cartel and eventually murdered in 1985. His death precipitated the start of the Red Ribbon Campaign that was started by the Camarena family and friends as a tribute to the slain agent and continues to serve as a reminder to all of the dangers of substance abuse. The Enrique Camarena Award was established by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks to recognize and honor law enforcement officers nationwide who have made a significant contribution in the field of drug prevention and who personify Agent Camarena’s belief that one person can make a difference.
The criteria and guidelines for the award include:
- Must be an individual, not an organization
- Must be law enforcement professional
- Must be a positive role model committed to a healthy lifestyle
- Must go beyond normal responsibilities of their position
- Must demonstrate how they help youth
- Must demonstrate leadership and organizational abilities
MCpl. Keith Hester has clearly shown all of these qualities during his 25-year career with the City of Dover Police Department and is a true hero to the youth in the community. Hester has spent 20 years of his career with the department’s Youth Division. He is a two-time winner of the “Officer of the Year” award and three-time winner of “Officer of the Quarter.” Hester was also a D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) for five years and is currently a School Resource officer at Central Middle School where he ia affectionately known as “Officer Keith.”
Hester is also involved with the “Shell Fuel for Success” program. This program gives under privileged youth the opportunity to attend a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Every year, for the last five years, Hester has taken 40 students to Dover International Speedway for each Sprint Cup race. Hester also went out of his way to secure funding to purchase four XBOX 360 systems to organize a competition among the children with the NASCAR video game. Hester takes the children on a guided tour of the pit area, meet and greet with the drivers, and a close up look at the race cars and garage areas. Hester is currently planning the NASCAR trip for the Spring 2014 race.
MCpl. Hester is also heavily involved in school activities at the Central Middle School. You can often spot Hester on the sidelines of a football game, assisting the coaches and constantly motivating the children. He has also been a wrestling coach at Central Middle School for the last six years. Hester seeks no compensation for his time and does this on his own time for no other reason than he genuinely cares for the youth in the Dover community. Hester has been known to provide rides to and from school/extracurricular activities to ensure that children attend and participate. He has been generous enough to contribute towards the payment for athletic physicals and sporting equipment with his own money when families cannot afford the added expense and encourages involvement in all extracurricular activities.
Finally, when school is out for summer break, Hester runs the Dover Police Youth Academy. Hester selects several children to attend the academy and learn about police work, even providing hands-on experience. The kids participate in academy style physical training, basic criminal law, and details of the day-to-day tasks the department and its officers perform. This not only helps to keep kids off the streets during a time when school is not in session, but inspires them to become better people and set career goals at a young age.
Keith Hester clearly exemplifies the definition of a role model and is nothing short of a hero in our community. He continues to find ways to connect with children and direct them down the right path in life, keeping them away from the drugs, gangs, and violence that youth can find themselves involved in. Hester is a true inspiration to the youth in the Dover community and to his fellow officers at the Dover Police Department. The Dover Police Department is proud and honored that Hester is a part of our team.
Hester will be honored with the Enrique Camarena Award on June 14, 2014 at the Elks State Convention Dinner in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Quote from Chief Paul Bernat:
“It is a privilege to work with officers that have such dedication like MCpl. Keith Hester. Hester has been a hard-working, selfless officer during his entire 25-year career and deserves the honor of being awarded the Enrique Camarena Award.”