On the road: Onalaska girl named statewide Explorer of the year

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 7:01 pm

Hailee Olsen and Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza, center, with Explorer advisors Deputy Jeremy Almond, left and Deputy Tyson Brown, right.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – She’s just 17, a junior at W.F. High School, but already she’s invested more than two years into preparing for her hoped for career.

Hailee Olsen said she tried sports and didn’t care for that so much.

In her after school time, when she’s not watching her young cousin, or working as a courtesy clerk at Safeway, she’s over at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office volunteering.

“I help out with office work, I help with a lot of evidence stuff, just various tasks,” Olsen said.

And the Onalaska girl knows what she’s doing, because she joined the sheriff’s office Explorer program when she was 14 and a half.

Members of the post and their advisors meet three times each month at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis. A typical meeting includes an inspection, to make sure their uniforms are nice and clean, she said.

They learn about such things as patrol procedures and do domestic violence classes, she said. They also get to join in with actual deputies’ training, something she especially enjoys.

“We’re in training to be a deputy, pretty much,” Olsen said.

Her uncle, Lewis County sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Riordon, suggested to her when she was 13 years old the program was something she might want to do. But it wasn’t until a friend invited her to an Explorer meeting that she got hooked, she said.

“It was nothing I was expecting when I first walked in,” she said.

It was fun and the Explorers were all so nice, she said.

Olsen said she was bullied a bit in middle school and the program has helped her build up her confidence.

Her dedication led to last year being named the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post #9771 Explorer of the year. And the same honor was bestowed up on her again, at the end of last month.

Advisor Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeremy Almond in his nomination letter notes she volunteered more than 400 hours last year. She is a sergeant who supervises  squad.

“Many deputies she rode with in 2016 provided excellent feedback about her motivation and professionalism with the public,” he wrote. “Sgt. Olsen, during a patrol physical assessment at the W.F. West High School track, saw a deputy struggling on the run. She circled back around and ran with the deputy providing motivation and encouragement to finish the assessment.”

When Sheriff Rob Snaza presented her with the award at Bethel Church during the volunteer appreciation gathering on April 28, he told how now-Chief Deputy Dusty Breen began his career through the same path.

“This is what the Explorer does, not only just for the individuals who want to be in law enforcement,” Snaza said. “But helps them grow as individuals, as young men and women.”

Olsen is working to turn her experiences into a job in law enforcement.

“I am shooting to be out on the road when I turn 21,” she said. “I’m going to apply, and hopefully get hired on.”

Now, she has been recognized statewide for her dedication.

Border Patrol Agent John Tafolla who came to know the teenager at a 2015 winter academy for Explorers said she proved to be an outstanding student. Tafolla wrote a letter to the Washington Law Enforcement Explorer Advisors group’s nominating Olsen to be Explorer of the year. And they chose her.

“Miss Olsen’s level of dedication to her post and law enforcement in general is rare in youth, even in Explorer’s that I have worked with,” Taffolla wrote.

Olsen will travel to Spokane to accept the award during a luncheon at the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs spring conference at the end of the month.

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8 Responses to “On the road: Onalaska girl named statewide Explorer of the year”

  1. Clarence C. Lupo says:

    Your way off base here Bo.

    I know this young lady and have seen her dedication first hand in the Sheriff’s Office participating in every function a Sheriff Office Explorer can do with nothing less than pure enthusiasm.

    She’s the genuine article who is already making a positive difference in her community and, if you and I are very lucky, will one day be one of our Deputies.

    I’m normally content to read your less than supportive posts regarding law enforcement and just let them slide, but not about Hailee. Your cheap shot at this young lady in an attempt to thrash her accomplishments deserves this correction and your apology.

  2. SW says:

    Oh FFS, Bo – you don’t think she might have actually EARNED the award??? don’t be such a jerk

  3. Bo Rupert says:

    The only reason that she received this award is because of Uncle. Deputy Dan Riordan​

  4. x270 says:

    Well done Hailee! You have learned a work ethic that will take you as far in life as you want to go.

  5. BobbyinLC says:

    Way to go Hailee. It is nice to see young people investing in their community.

  6. Wyatt says:

    Santa needs a almond diet.

  7. Wyatt says:

    Nice remake of the Seal Cd cover.

  8. Bo Rupert says:

    I hope she makes a good deputy.

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