At this year’s Kansas City Recovery Coalition Award ceremony, Officer Mitchell Branch was awarded the Sergeant Gary Cooley Law Enforcement Unsung Hero Award.
Officer Branch of KCPD’s East Patrol Division has been with the department for 35 years.
Jason Cooley, Gary’s brother, presented the award, and said Branch is the type of officer who is always uplifting others, always ready and willing to serve, and often outperforms new officers.
“One day on the job is about 90 percent negative,” said Cooley. “People call you on their worst day in their worst situations, but Officer Branch has been here willing to serve for 35 years.”
The award is in honor of Cooley’s late brother, Sergeant Gary Cooley, who passed away in 2013.
The nominee for this award is a person employed in law enforcement or a law enforcement unit that has made a difference in the lives of individuals and/or agencies served by the Kansas City Recovery Coalition (KCRC).
The KCRC is a network for substance abuse treatment and recovery support providers.
This nonprofit consists of programs and professionals who work with individuals seeking to overcome substance use disorders and their family members.
Speaking to the packed room, Cooley thanked all the organizations in attendance for their continued work in recovery.
“Our family cannot thank you all enough for honoring my brother. It’s a very emotional time for us, but it’s a wonderful time for us because his legacy lives on,” said Cooley. “That’s through you all honoring him, his heart, and continuing his work and his vision. It’s his, but if you think about it, it’s ours. All of us working together for that same goal and the community we serve and for others to bring them to a point of stability.”
Cooley added that the hard work and dedication of the organizations is thoroughly recognized by the Kansas City Missouri Police Department.
“On behalf of Chief Rick Smith, thank you for what you do in the land and in the world of prevention. It’s immeasurable,” he said. “You’re valued. You’re important. Your police department knows it. Your chief of police knows it. He’s invested heavily in his police department and the community relations program and doubling the CIO program and bringing in a social worker that is assigned to each division to partner with you guys to help bring stability in people’s lives.”