Explorer Post Advisor of the Year

2016 Explorer Post Advisor of the Year

Sergeant Dawanna Witt

Dakota County, Minnesota

Sergeant Witt is the long-tenured post advisor for the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office. Her passion and commitment to developing a strong character education program and solid law enforcement technical skills for the post’s explorers is unmatched. This post is over 30 years old and stands as one of the most highly awarded law enforcement exploring programs in the state and nationally. Sergeant Witt continues to serve as the vice chair for the Minnesota Law Enforcement Exploring Association (MLEEA) and is the current Chair of the Law Enforcement Exploring Association (LEEA), which is also affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America-Northern Star Council. 

As the vice chair for the MLEEA, part of what Sergeant Witt thrives upon is making today’s explorers the peace officers of tomorrow. Recognizing an issue with report writing skills, Sergeant Witt implemented “report writing” as a state competition for the exploring program in 2014 because so many were struggling with this concept. The competition consisted of explorers watching a short video regarding police activity, then composing a report. Scores were based on accuracy, detail, flow, and grammar. 

As the Chair for the LEEA, Sergeant Witt serves as a liaison to coordinate monthly trainings for explorers throughout the metro area. She plans out and implements pre-state competitions for over two hundred explorers. This even entails finding volunteers to judge and role play over 100 teams of explorers in law enforcement-related events. 

Competing in state and national events can be expensive, requiring considerable fundraising. Planning and implementing fundraising efforts takes a lot of time and energy, but Sergeant Witt tirelessly works to help Dakota County explorers compete on the state and national levels. 

Volunteerism is also a part of Sergeant Witt’s nature, whether it’s the Polar Plunge or serving as co-coordinator of the Annual Explorers in Action Event. Under her leadership, the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office was awarded the Community Service Award in 2011 at the Exploring Awards Banquet for their contributions and immersion in community service projects. 

Sergeant Witt won the 2013 Spurgeon Award from the Northern Star Council. This award is given for dedication and commitment to youth and her passion for community service. She was also nominated by her explorers and awarded the Post Advisor of the Year Award in 2012. In 2009, Sergeant Witt was awarded the National Adult Leadership Award. This award is given, with regard to tenure, to the post advisor for leadership shown through exploring and the community. This is a nationally recognized award and is the highest honor a local unit can bestow on an advisor. In 2015, Sergeant Witt was nominated for the 2015 Minnesota Law Enforcement Explorer Advisor of the Year. The unique thing about this nomination is that the parents of the explorers she oversees nominated her. 

As an advisor and a mentor, Sergeant Witt was able to help prepare many young adults for a career in law enforcement. Nine young adults have recently gone on to careers in law enforcement; three of them were hired by the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office. 

NSA established the Law Enforcement Explorer Post Advisor Award in 1988 to recognize a post advisor for outstanding contributions to a law enforcement explorer post sponsored by a sheriff's office. Candidates are judged on their recruiting efforts, size of post and tenure of explorers, written program plans, explorer training, and post activities. This award is sponsored by GTL.


Previous Winners

1999   Sergeant Barbara Smith - St. Lucie County, FL

2000   Sergeant Hank Davis - Contra Costa County , CA

2002   Deputy Gregory L. Rabanus - Hamilton County, OH

2001   Sergeant Brian Davy - Natrona County, WY

2003   Segeant Tygh Thompson - Washington County, OR

2004   Deputy Lillian "lee" Sutterfield - Palm Beach County, FL

2004   Corporal Andy Gerrard - Riverside County, CA

2005   Sergeant Theresa (Teri) Ellingham - Will County, IL

2006   Kendall K. Anderson - Jacksonville, FL

2007   Corporal Yakeisha Hines - Prince Georges County, MD

2008   Deputy Sonya Matthews - Kitsap County, WA

2009   Deputy Barry Bland - Hanover County, VA

 2010   Leiuteant LaFate E. Day, Jr. - Lafourche Parish, LA

2011   Deputy Joni Goodley - Pinellas County, Fl

2012   Deputy Rich Bennett - Dane County, WI

2013   Oscar Garcia - Washington County, UT

2014  Deputy James Butterfield - Pinellas County, FL

2015  Master Deputy James Cole - Orange County, FL