The University of Maine School of Law presented the 2017 Courage is Contagious Award to Westbrook Chief of Police Janine L. Roberts during the sixth annual Justice For Women Lecture on March 23. The award is presented annually at the Justice For Women Lecture to an outstanding woman leader who demonstrates a commitment to the mission of the Justice For Women Lecture Series which is to raise awareness in Maine about the injustices women and girls face globally and locally.
Chief Roberts became Interim Chief of the Westbrook Police Department in 2014 after a twenty-nine-year career with the Portland Police Department. Since becoming the permanent Chief in July 2015, she has established a solid community policing philosophy throughout the Department and has dedicated herself to Westbrook’s diverse community. Chief Roberts’ initiatives include the Community Policing Coordinator Program for the Brown Street neighborhood, the Community Approach to Stopping Heroin (CASH) initiative, and the Westbrook Recovery Liaison Program (WRLP). She also worked with the Muslim community last summer after threatening notes were left in the Westbrook Pointe neighborhood.
“We’re working on how we as a community, and a police department, can further develop our relationships with any minority but also with Muslim women, so we can gain their trust,” Chief Roberts said. She also stressed how important it is to “break down barriers” and show people that police officers, fire fighters, dispatchers and EMTs are friendly, helpful people.
“Chief Roberts is a force for good in our community. In addition to being a stellar public servant, she has embraced our newest residents and citizens as if they were her own family members. She is intrepid in forming partnerships to empower women and girls, so that they become change-agents for their communities,” said Danielle Conway, Dean and Professor of Law.
Chief Roberts is the second recipient of the Courage is Contagious Award. The 2016 award was presented to Catherine Lee of Lee International, who worked closely with Maine Law to establish the Justice For Women Lecture Series in 2011.