Redwood Falls Police Department officer, RASD SRO, Dana Woodford, reflects on career
Growing up in northern Minnesota, Dana Woodford recalls hearing sirens and always wondering where they went.
Woodford said her mom also recalled she would watch the TV show “Police Woman” quite a bit as a kid, and so it made sense that she would head to Hibbing Tech to get her degree in law enforcement.
Woodford spent more than 25 years protecting and serving the public – the majority with the Redwood Falls Police Department.
After earning her degree, Woodford took various jobs, including doing security for Jackpot Junction, working for the Fairfax Police Department and for a brief period of time she worked undercover for the local drug task force.
It was in 1995 when she was hired by the Redwood Falls Police Department as a full-time officer.
While there had been some part-time female officers, Woodford believes she was the first full-time female officer on the local department.
After eight years on the job, Woodford was given a unique opportunity to help develop a new program that would be a collaborative effort of the Redwood Falls Police Department and the Redwood Area School District.
Starting in 2003, Woodford was hired as the school resources officer (SRO) – a role she held until this year.
“I loved working with the kids,” she said, adding building relationships with the students and the staff was a meaningful part of her job.
What made the job unique was the fact that there were constantly new people to work with over the years.
“When one group would graduate new students would come in,” said Woodford.
As time went on, Woodford said she discovered just how much she loved that role working in the school, adding she determined there was really nothing else she’d rather do.
As an added benefit she was also able to be even more involved in the lives of her own children, as she was able to see them every school day.
Woodford was involved in the development of the program from its beginning.
“It was fun to be involved in developing the program and then seeing it succeed,” she said. “Yes, there were some failures along the way, but I really think this is a great program.”
Life for Woodford changed when she was injured.
“I have had three injuries on my shoulder,” Woodford said, adding she still can’t lift her arm above her head.
Recognizing the fact that she was no longer able to perform her duties a change was required, which is what led to the council decision to terminate Woodford’s employment.
Yes, said Woodford, it has been hard, but she knows it was the right decision.
Woodford said she has nothing but good things to say about her time in the community, adding the city and the school district have been very good to her over the years.
Now, said Woodford, she is focused on quality of life.
Woodford admitted that she is not sure what comes next, adding she will be looking for something that will keep her busy.
Of course, with her son Cole, playing basketball in Jamestown, N.D. she is hoping to make some trips to watch him play. She also plans to watch her other son, Carson, who is a junior at RVHS.
Woodford said she learned a lot about kids in her role as the SRO, adding she appreciated the hugs from elementary students, fist bumps from middle schoolers and even the head bobs from high-school students.
Woodford said whenever she is out in the community students will stop her to say “hi” adding they even recognize her out of her uniform.
Not that long into her career, Woodford said she wondered what would come next for her as a law enforcement officer. Where would the job take her over the years?
Then 25 years had gone by – 25 very good years.
Woodford said she is going to miss those daily interactions with students, staff, her fellow officers and the community.
The public will have a chance to talk with Woodford this Friday (Aug. 14) when an event is being held at the law enforcement center in Redwood Falls from 1-3 p.m.
Woodford said she is proud of the chance she had to have an impact on the community and to be a positive role model.
“I want to thank the police department, the city and the school for the chance they gave me,” she said.
For that, Woodford will forever be grateful.