Editor’s note: York Police Officer Riley Friesen wrote these words and the words were offered to York News-Times Managing Editor Melanie Wilkinson for consideration as notes, should a story be written. She determined that the story could really only be told by Officer Friesen himself – so here is his story, in his words, regarding the inspiration that led him to his career in law enforcement and how he wanted to honor the man who helped him find his calling.
YORK -- During the year of 2016, I was a senior attending York High School. At the moment, like most other high school students, I was struggling to determine what I wanted to do with my life or what goals I had other than going to college and finding a job.
Throughout all of senior year, it was a constant battle within me to determine what I wanted to pursue in regards to a possible career. Many of my peers already had an idea of some kind. I, on the other hand, was struggling with either following in my father’s footsteps, attending college and working for the family business, or joining the military or something of that nature. I always had an interest in law enforcement growing up, although I never thought it was a realistic possibility at that time.
York High School provides students with financial assistance opportunities for students to further their education, which includes scholarships. Each year, they give the senior students a packet full of scholarships for which we can apply. While looking over these scholarships, I came across the Anthony Howe Memorial Scholarship. This one stood out, as it was specific to those who wanted to major in criminal justice, a field of interest for me. I chose to apply for this as well as some other scholarships.
After a couple weeks passed, I was called to the high school office, during class, and was introduced to Roger Howe, who wanted to interview me in regards to the Anthony Howe Memorial Scholarship.
Roger and I sat down and visited for approximately an hour. Roger was a very passionate man and one who clearly was very proud of his son Anthony – also known as Tony.
Tony was a law enforcement officer who was involved in a vehicle accident that tragically claimed his life in 2012. Roger informed me that this scholarship was in honor and memory of his son, Tony, and designed to help those who wish to pursue a career in the same field as his son. I told Roger that I always had an interest in law enforcement, and it was a career path I was seriously considering at the time. He was very encouraging and one of the first people to really inspire and push me to go for something that I had always wanted to do. Roger told me that he really wanted me to see it through and not let my potential go to waste.
Later I was informed that Roger had awarded the Anthony Howe Memorial scholarship to me. Roger believed in me and gave me the encouragement I needed to go to college and pursue a career in criminal justice. He was one of the first to encourage this career path.
After attending college, I still had a desire to have a career in law enforcement and never forgot Roger’s encouragement. I was fortunate to move back to my hometown and was hired by the York Police Department as a police officer. After months of training and schooling and moments of humility, my dream has become a reality.
After learning of Roger Howe’s recent passing, I recalled our conversation, his encouragement and inspiration.
When I learned there was a request for an officer to lead his funeral procession from the church to the cemetery, I wanted to be that officer. Roger inspired me to become a police officer, so it was an honor to escort him to his final resting place.
I want to say thank you to Roger and the Howe family for awarding me the scholarship and for believing in me. I will honor you both, Tony and Roger Howe, as I continue to do my best.