2023 Officer of the Year
Officer Mark Hetherington has been a member of the Burnsville Police Department since 2000. After 23 years of service, his many accomplishments have earned him the distinction of being named Burnsville’s 2023 Officer of the Year.
Officer Hetherington has served with a passion for connecting police officers with kids, families, and community members in Burnsville. Most notably in 2023, Officer Hetherington went above and beyond his duties in the area of community outreach. Officer Hetherington created two very impactful community initiatives, the Blue Star Reading initiative; making time for kids to read to police officers, and the Tinsel, Treats, and Giving Event; an initiative that helped provide for families in need during the holiday season.
The focus of Officer Hetherington’s Blue Star Reading Initiative was launched from Blue in the School. He has always been a leader in Burnsville’s Blue in The School program, where officers are connected to ISD191 elementary schools to build relationships with students and staff. Noticing how interested and excited these elementary students were to see a police officer in their classrooms, he encouraged students to read books to him. Students picked books they enjoyed and individually took turns reading out loud to Officer Hetherington during class. He noticed how proud the students were when they completed their reading time and began to see increased student confidence, reading ability, and excitement toward reading.
Strong relationships with ISD191 also led to an expansion of Officer Hetherington’s initiative to raise money for families in the district who were in need during the holiday season. Officer Hetherington’s efforts, together with generous donations of many, raised nearly $45,000 to host Tinsel, Treats, and Giving for ISD 191 families. Partnerships included ISD191, Burnsville Savage Lions Club, Schmitty and Sons, and more. Through his dedicated service to community engagement and compassion for our community, hundreds of toys were given out at the event, which was open to all. More than 25 families in need at ISD191 also received gifts and a personal visit from Santa and his elf ahead of Christmas.
“Officer Hetherington’s kindhearted and compassionate outreach has built trust and long-lasting positive connections in our community for years to come”, said Burnsville Police Chief Tanya Schwartz.
Officer Hetherington’s everyday actions represent the department’s mission of “working together to make a difference through excellence in policing,” and the core values of Honor, Integrity, Courage, Knowledge and Excellence. Thanks to his outstanding achievements and innovative approach to public safety and service, the Burnsville Police Department is proud to announce Burnsville Police Officer Mark Hetherington as Burnsville’s 2023 Officer of the Year.