City officer recognized with ‘distinguished’ award

By Keisha Howerth

Community relations officer Chad McNett is being recognized as a contributing member of his community.

DeKalb’s officer was one of six candidates chosen this year to receive Highland Community College Foundation’s Distinguished Alumni Award. The foundation reviewed more than 100 nominations this year and voted on who would receive the award. Highland Community College is located in Freeport.

Pat Dunn, the foundation’s director of operations, said the award is “reserved for individuals that exemplify community leadership, demonstrate professional achievement and believe in the mission of community colleges and higher education.”

“As a graduate of Highland, he has exemplified the college’s role in preparing its graduates to become leaders in their profession and community,” Dunn said of McNett.

McNett graduated from Highland in 1993 with an associate of science degree. He said it was during his time at the college that he figured out what career path he wanted to take.

“The environment at HCC was a great place to figure things out,” McNett said. “And the small-town feel of the college gave me an appreciation for community.”

As a community relations officer, McNett meets with groups to discuss their concerns or other police-related items that interest them.

“I try to bring a human element to the way people view us and interact with us,” McNett said. “A typical interaction with a police officer is usually during a traffic incident, accident or at a time of crisis. We want interaction and partnership with people during the good times, as well.”

DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery said McNett shows compassion and understanding for the community and the department.

“His heart is in the right place, and you know he will not be afraid to share the positives and negatives of his community outreach and how we as a police department can and do respond,” Lowery said. “He always looks for ways in which we can improve how we are delivering our services and how the community perceives the police and their safety.”

In addition to McNett’s role as a police officer, he contributes to the DeKalb community as a sports coach and serves as the committee chairman for Boy Scout Troop 33.

In November 2012, McNett and Troop 33 traveled by van to New Jersey to help with relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy. The projects they helped with included clearing the Windward Beach Park in Brick, N.J., and distributing needed supplies to New Jersey cities.

Troop 33 Scoutmaster Cliff Golden said McNett always works in a calm, cheerful manner and remains a positive role model to their Scouts.

“He is loyal to those around him, has strength of character, is helpful to those in need and he’s committed to public service,” Golden said.

Lowery said McNett’s dedication to his community makes a great success story for others to look up to.

“He is a problem solver and a change agent for our police department and city, setting the standard for others to follow,” Lowery said. “The award is well deserved and reflects in a positive manner on Chad and Highland Community College.”