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FW police officer shows off skills -- with 'Macarena'

Kurt Schwan has some talents most police officers don’t usually get to show off.

Not only is he a respected fund-raiser for the Special Olympics of Washington, but he also got his recent recognition by dancing the “Macarena,” singing the theme song to the TV show “Cops,” and doing the “Hokey-Pokey.”

For Schwan, a Federal Way crime prevention officer, helping others is what it’s all about.

He was recently named “Rookie of the Year” by the state Special Olympics group for his tireless fund-raising efforts in Washington. With his colleagues, he garnered $5,404 this year for the charity that helps mentally challenged people compete in a variety of sports and competitive events.

To benefit Special Olympians this year, Schwan organized a softball tournament and even put on a raffle for a new car and a ski vacation. But his crowning achievement was the “Cops & Lobsters” event in March at the Federal Way Red Lobster restaurant. Dozens of department officials, including Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, volunteered their own time to collect donations.

Many Red Lobster restaurants have long sponsored the annual spring event that has police officers serving meals to crustacean cravers to help Special Olympics. But it was Schwan’s persistence and organizing drive that got Federal Way officers involved for the first time.

Before Kirkpatrick took the department helm this year, Federal Way police were discouraged from participating because of concerns serving food would not be dignified for officers.

Schwan said was glad for the change in perspective.

“It’s not about that,” he said. “It’s about raising money for Special Olympics.”

It’s about having fun, too.

In between serving meals, several of the police officers lined up for the “Hokey-Pokey” and to sing catchy tunes. Chief Kirkpatrick even did the “Macarena” dance beside the 6-foot-9 Schwan.

“The height difference was just hilarious,” said Jeff Kaplan, culinary manager at the Federal Way Red Lobster and a coordinator of the local event with Schwan.

Kaplan called the event a huge success. “The energy in the restaurant was just amazing,” he said, saying Schwan’s “enthusiasm was just great.”

The two are already discussing the next “Cops & Lobsters” event in spring and may invite the Seattle Seahawks’ SeaGals cheerleading squad as well as invite youngsters to get close-up looks at police motorcycles and cruisers.

Schwan, who has been with Federal Way police for two years, had also done some charity fund-raising in last job in Moscow, Idaho. But he says he didn’t get involved to get such accolades as the “Rookie of the Year” fund-raising award.

“I didn’t even know they had it,” he said.

He also didn’t know that he would get his department named to the Special Olympics Circle of Honor for raising more than $5,000 in a year.

“Only about 10 or 15 departments in the state make it in to that,” he said.

Cate Ervin, events coordinator for the state Special Olympics group, said Schwan’s energy is paying big dividends in smiles for the competing athletes.

“He’s basically spearheading it. And it takes a lot of time and effort to do what he did,” Ervin said.

Special Olympics relies on police officers everywhere. Law enforcement and supporting agencies are the largest grass-roots fund-raising concerns for Special Olympics, Ervin said.

“In our state, the officers raised a little more than $198,000,” Ervin said. “All officers are off-duty and are choosing to do it.”

Ervin who eats out every year during the “Cops & Lobsters” event said diners universally like the community outreach and charity work by local police.

“The citizens of Federal Way really enjoyed it because they get to see officers in a different light,” she said.

But not every one liked the entertainment. “Somebody paid them $20 not to sing and dance,” she said. “So that was pretty funny.”

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