BPD photo featured in calendar

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Even though the month of March is just a few days away, the calendar hanging in Lenore Pena's office has been turned to that page since January.

And the city's risk manager plans on keeping it there for the rest of the year.

The Hub City's own Belen Police Department is highlighted in the Safer New Mexico Now's calendar as the month of March.

Nine police officers, including Police Chief Dan Robb, are pictured standing in front of the Reinken Avenue bridge in full uniform.

Pena submitted a photo of the department to Safer New Mexico Now as part of a statewide competition that gives a little bit of recognition to law enforcement officials, fire departments and health organizations that place their lives on the line for the public's safety, said Mark McCracken, director of operations for Safer New Mexico Now.

"Often times, police agencies don't get recognized for all the hard work and long hours they do in checkpoints in cold weather, standing out there at two in the morning when no one else wants to be out there, and … taking time away from their families to dedicate this service to be out there protecting the public," McCracken said.

Participants were chosen dependent upon if they participate in the Department of Transportation's Traffic Safety Bureau's programs. Belen Police Department participates in Operation DWI, Operation Buckle Down, Click It or Ticket and 100 Days and Nights of Summer, according to the calendar.

This is the first year the police department was profiled in the calendar out of the eight years the agency has been putting this together, McCracken said.

Pena had her mind set on getting Belen's accredited police department into the calendar since June 2012, when she began learning how to enter the department into the competition, planning what the department's picture would look like and where in the city it should be set.

Months later, she learned the department's picture had been chosen for the calendar when Belen Police Lt. Robert Miller walked in with a calendar in hand.

"He said, 'Look we won.' I was so excited I started crying," Pena said with a smile on her face.

That same day, she rushed to Safer New Mexico Now's office in Albuquerque to get her own copy of the calendar, which she had autographed by each of the officers in the photograph.

This is the fourth photography contest Pena, who calls herself an amateur photographer, has won. She takes pictures "just for fun" of the city of Belen, which is why she loves her job. It requires her to take pictures of employees in action, accidents or other city happenings.

Next year she plans on submitting a photo of the Belen Fire Department to the same competition.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.