Upton named U-M Police Officer of the Year

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When Sue Upton arrived for her first day of first grade, the lunch box she carried depicting the then-popular police television show "SWAT" revealed her future career goal. Years later, Upton not only is fulfilling her lifelong dream of being a police officer, but she's been recognized for exemplary service.

On March 26 Upton was named the first Keith Curtis Memorial Police Officer of the Year at the annual Department of Public Safety awards luncheon. A seven-year veteran of the university police force, Upton earned the award by a vote of the department's police personnel.

"This is a very humbling experience," Upton says. "That I was selected by my peers means so much, and being the first recipient of the award truly makes this a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The award was named in honor of Keith Curtis, a beloved officer of the department who died in January 2002 after a courageous battle with leukemia. Curtis exemplified the many qualities of an outstanding police officer, colleagues say. A husband and father of two girls, he loved helping the U-M community and was considered a true professional and a gentleman.

In nominating Upton for the award, a fellow officer wrote, "Officer Upton does her job exceptionally well and unconditionally, without a hidden agenda, and does not seek to get accolades or any other special treatment. I could only hope that if my family, friends or loved ones had to call the police that someone like Sue would show up."

DPS Director Ken Magee presented Upton with the award. "Keith Curtis provided us an example of what we should strive to be each and every day a DPS officer wears our badge — an officer with a positive attitude who exudes leadership, integrity, respect, loyalty and commitment. I'm very proud of our department and particularly of this honor for Sue. She is truly a positive influence on everyone with whom she comes into contact — colleagues, customers, victims of crimes, even offenders."

As the award recipient, Upton will represent U-M and DPS at next month's annual Law Enforcement Memorial Week in Washington, D.C. At the DPS awards ceremony, she received two additional awards recognizing exceptional work in 2008, when she captured a sexual assault suspect and when she assisted in the arrest of an attempted-murder suspect.

An Ann Arbor native, Upton previously served as a police officer in Traverse City and Inkster. But in 2002 she returned home to join two family members on the U-M staff. Her father, George, is a professor of dentistry and maxillofacial surgeon at University Hospital, and her brother, Steven, is a physician's assistant in pediatrics.

"I have a great sense of pride wearing the U-M police badge," Upton says. "In every encounter, I try to go above and beyond to represent our badge well. But it is extra special knowing that I also am protecting and serving my hometown. I'm living my dream."