APG's 'Big Mike' wins state award
May 17, 2011
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The Directorate of Emergency Services has announced that APG Police Detective Michael Farlow was awarded the prestigious Sam Walker Lifetime Achievement Award, which is equivalent to the State of Maryland's D.A.R.E Officer of the Year Award, during an April 20 presentation at the Holiday Inn in Ocean City, Md.
Also known by the APG community as "Big Mike," Farlow is a DES detective who also serves as the Community Policing Officer.
Joseph J. Darabasz, DES deputy director said the award is the first for the Army and possibly for the Department of Defense and that Farlow will represent the state of Maryland in competition for the national title.
"Through his duties as APG's Community Policing and D.A.R.E. Officer, [Farlow] has developed a rapport with the local and surrounding community unsurpassed by any other officer within the department," Darabasz said. "Big Mike spends countless hours building these relationships, often during his off-duty hours. Most people go home from work and leave their job at the office. Countless times Big Mike has come into work on a Monday morning with a unique and very distinctive twist to a D.A.R.E. presentation that he worked on over the weekend."
Darabasz said that Farlow's commitment to the program started in 2005 when APG was not yet a D.A.R.E. affiliated agency. Farlow volunteered to attend the state D.A.R.E. Academy, graduating at the top of his class. Afterwards, he gained the confidence of the installation and command, establishing the D.A.R.E. program on APG, initially teaching at the APG Youth Services Center. During the past seven years, Farlow has been instrumental in the continued growth of the D.A.R.E. program on APG and in Harford County. He expanded his instructional program by agreeing to instruct at schools attended by the children of the military and civilian employees of APG; in the process touching the lives of nearly 800 children. In addition, Farlow has received numerous accolades from teachers, parents and the state D.A.R.E. representatives for his innovative methods of teaching and instruction.
"The children and parents who reside on the installation know him as "Big Mike," and that name has become synonymous with APG," Darabasz said. "During his tenure, he has been recognized by many in the community for his enthusiasm, ingenuity and progressive thinking, during the presentation of the D.A.R.E. curriculum and related D.A.R.E. initiatives."
Those initiatives included the D.A.R.E. OTC/RX Awareness Program in 2010. Darabasz said that Big Mike was the only D.A.R.E. officer in the state who participated in the event; collecting 18 pounds of prescription and over the counter medications at two separate sites.
Committed to clean living, Big Mike has never smoked or consumed alcohol, dedicated to the principles he teaches in D.A.R.E., Darabasz added. Realizing kids and teens need other alternatives to avoid these pitfalls, Big Mike established a D.A.R.E. Dance Program on APG, collaborating with the State D.A.R.E. representatives for this endeavor. One of the highlights of this program was the graduation, where Big Mike danced to the song "Soldier Boy" with the graduating class. The children participating in the D.A.R.E. dance program also were recognized during the Maryland D.A.R.E. Officer Conference in April 2007.
Farlow also secured the funding to purchase D.A.R.E. shirts for the APG graduates of the program, a "DAREN the Lion" D.A.R.E. mascot costume, and brought D.A.R.E. icon, "Retro Bill," to APG for several events and D.A.R.E. graduations.
"With children of his own, Big Mike is a very committed family man," Darabasz said. "His wife Karen and his two children, Nate and Micaela have helped build props, critiqued rehearsals of his D.A.R.E. presentations, and helped out during the annual Night Out Against Crime events at the McGruff House in Patriot Village.
"The APG Community is proud to have him as our own"
Farlow said he feels blessed to have won the award.
"Without the support of my Family, friends and coworkers, this would not have been possible," he said. "I think the award is a perfect example of what can happen when you surround yourself with positive people. Even though my name is on the award, I know that it would not have been possible without that support and I'm very thankful for that."
He said that the D.A.R.E. program will continue to grow and serve the children and youth of APG. Upcoming D.A.R.E. events over the summer include a basketball game featuring the "Harlem Rockets" versus APG police officers, he added.
"They'll also learn about making healthy life choices."