It’s been a year of accolades for Bellevue Police Department Detective Cassandra Ward.
This spring, the nine-year department veteran was named the department’s Officer of the Year by her superiors for her role in helping solve a 2019 homicide, as well as assisting with other high-profile cases. Just a few months later, Ward was once again recognized as one of Sarpy County CrimeStoppers’ Officers of the Year.
Though humbled by the recognition, Ward acknowledged she’s a little uncomfortable receiving the attention.
“I think it’s kind of taboo in law enforcement to be super excited and happy and show a lot of emotion around recognition,” said Ward, who works in the department’s Special Victim’s units focusing on sexual assault, domestic violence and abuse/neglect of vulnerable adults.
“Not only because that’s what we signed up to do — you take the calls that come your way and you do the best you can with the experience and resources you have, but also because these cases were 100% a team effort.”
Ward was one of a handful of Sarpy County law enforcement representatives selected for the honor by the CrimeStoppers supervising board as a result of going above and beyond in the line of duty.
Bellevue Police Department Capt. Tim Melvin said Ward exemplifies what it means to wear the uniform. Working in the Special Victims Unit, the captain said Ward’s position isn’t for the faint of heart.
“Every detective assigned to the Special Victim’s Unit has an extremely tough job,” he said. “They are tasked with just very specific cases which are usually child abuse cases, sexual assaults and domestic violence. These are very emotionally taxing cases, not only for the victims, but also for the detectives that handle them.
“So you have to be somebody who has a good temperament, somebody who is compassionate and can listen to all sides of the story.”
Ward, he said, embodies these qualities.
“She’s just really embraced her role as a detective who handles these types of cases,” he said.
Born into a military family, Ward grew up on the West Coast before moving to Nebraska where she graduated from Waverly High School. She then went to Wayne State College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
After being hired by BPD, Ward went on to complete her master’s degree in justice administration and crime management.
For seven years, Ward said she worked as a street cop before transitioning to a predominately investigative role. The move allowed her to flourish.
“Going upstairs, I really found my niche in (handling) crimes against people, just in general,” she said. “With the wide variety of opportunities for different types of crimes upstairs, I’ve been able to just expose myself to a lot of situations.”
Being exposed to those situations – oftentimes dark and ugly – and putting in the necessary time to do the job the right way has helped Ward stand out.
“With the homicide out there … she put in hundreds of hours on that case interviewing numerous people,” Melvin said, referencing the 2019 case. “That was a case that spanned five or six suspects, I believe.”
Though it can be taxing, Ward said right now she wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
“I’m really drawn to a profession where I’m not stuck at a desk all day every day,” she said. “I’m in dynamic situations, I can be outside, inside, and I really don’t repeat the same thing twice very often.”