Adrian Police Officer Ashley Kane driven by a need to help and a love of community
“I love being able to be there for someone when it might not be the best hour of their life," said Kane, "and being a friendly face, someone they know, can help calm them down, make things easier.”
ADRIAN — Since 2018, Ashley Kane has been a member of the Adrian Police Department, and in that time, few things have become as important to her as the local community she serves.
Part of Kane’s drive to work in law enforcement stems from the events of 9/11. It was a scary time, she recalled, but in the wake of it, a question stuck with her, one that has shaped her career.
“I had a teacher who asked our class, 'Do you think you’re the type of person who could run into danger?’” she said. “And I just remember thinking, yeah, I could do that … just to help one person, I could do that.”
Partway through her law enforcement education, though, Kane began to have doubts. She dropped out of the program and took odd jobs for a period of time. She spent some time working retail, then took a job with Polaris. With Habilitative Services, Inc., she worked with people with disabilities — an experience Kane says has helped her be more understanding during her interactions as a police officer.
As she tested out other careers, her uncompleted law enforcement training was eating at her.
“My parents raised me with the idea that … if you can help somebody, you should help,” said Kane, who grew up in the Round Lake area. “It was just kind of hardwired in my brain, and I can’t even really put my finger on why, that this was the way I could help people if I would just go and do it.”
Kane reenrolled, and in 2015, she graduated from Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s law enforcement program. She was hired as an officer in Heron Lake, where she stayed for three years before joining the Adrian Police Department.
“This town has been nothing but welcoming and open-armed to me,” Kane said. “I’ve been here five years, and I just like it here a lot.”
Typically, Kane works the afternoon shift. She goes on patrol, monitors traffic and takes calls when they come in. Some days, she spends her entire shift going where dispatch needs her. On slow days, she goes out into the community and talks with people — one of her favorite parts of the job.
“Bridging that gap and communicating with people, that’s so important,” she said. “The more people know you, the easier your calls go. It’s good to build that trust.”
The part of Kane’s job she likes best is working with kids, especially the students she interacts with through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
Shortly after joining the Adrian Police Department, Kane was approached about an opportunity to get involved with DARE, a 10-week program where, once a week, she goes into fifth-grade classrooms and talks with students about different topics like drug use prevention and violent behaviors.
The training was one of the hardest things Kane said she’s done during her law enforcement career. Not only was it a lot of information to cover, but to then translate all that information into something understandable for kids was a challenge.
“As much as the training wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I’ve gotten to communicate and have a relationship with these kids,” said Kane. “My goal is to prevent them from making a poor decision, but if they do make a mistake … I want them to feel like they can come to me.”
Along with her involvement in the DARE program, Kane started Adrian Community United, a non-profit group that focuses on bringing the community together. The organization puts on community nights out, which include free food, activities for kids and demonstrations by first responders. It gives the police, fire department and EMS teams an opportunity to interact with the public.
“You don’t want people, especially kids, to be scared of you and only see you during a bad time,” Kane said. “I love being able to be there for someone when it might not be the best hour of their life, and being a friendly face, someone they know, can help calm them down, make things easier.”
It is Kane's role as a DARE officer and founder of Adrian Community United that earned her a nomination for The Globe's Community Pride project. She was nominated by Sarah Lenz, who had this to say about Kane: "Ashley is always going above and beyond for the citizens in Adrian. No matter the time of day, Ashley is there for anyone. She has organized events for youth, found services for people in need and shelters people when they are stranded in storms at the emergency services building.
"When EMS volunteers, city staff, or residents need something, she is always willing to jump in and help," Lenz added. "If all they need is someone to listen to them, she lends an ear. Ashley is an extremely valuable asset to our community! Adrian is lucky to have her."
Kane admits her job can be difficult. There have been some rough calls during her time in Adrian, and she’s glad to have other law enforcement members and first responders to talk through some of the hardest times with, as well as support from her family.
In 2021, Kane was awarded special recognition for saving a life on a call, for a person who had nearly severed their hand. While Kane was the first on the scene and applied a tourniquet, she credits the save to the dispatchers, medical providers and other first responders. It’s a call she says she’s unlikely to ever forget.
“I’m always trying to learn from my past calls,” Kane said. “How can I do better next time, how do we reach more people? I’m always trying to keep moving forward.”
Despite the challenges that come with the job, Kane loves her work and being a part of the Adrian community.
“I don’t ever want to be a big town cop, with no time to talk to people,” she said. “I like where I’m at here. I’ll stay as long as they’ll have me.”