One of Salem's youngest police officers is voted as Officer of the Year

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - Barely two years into the job as an officer with the Salem Police department, Cody Keen, 25, has been awarded the department's highest honor.

"I started in May 2016," Keen said.

Is he the newest guy?

"No, not the newest, luckily!"

But it didn't take long at all for Keen's coworkers to realize, he's packing more than heat. He's got an arsenal of passion.

"My goal is to help one person every day," Keen said. "Each day before I come into work or each day before I go out, off of work, I just want to be as much help as possible to someone."

That's why, at just 25 years old, his peers voted him Salem's Officer of the year for 2017. They credit his quick thinking on and off duty. One time, while out shopping with his wife, Keen noticed a woman, trapped in a car full of smoke. He took a flashlight from his car to break a window. When that didn't work, Keen found a car jack in the road, smashed the window, and helped pull a women to safety.

Other officers arrived on scene and quickly realized the missing woman was wanted for a DUI crash the night before, and were able to take her into custody.

Another time, officials say he responded to an alarm call at a CVS drug store. While he would normally check the door first, he decided to pull around back.

That's where he found a man carrying bags of merchandise to his car. The man put the bags in the trunk, denied involvement and then ran. He was taken into custody and the prescription drugs he was toting out of the store were prevented from making their way to the streets.

Deputy Chief Derek Weeks said the department appreciates what Keen brings to the job every day.

"He is an officer with high standards who moral compass is always pointed true," Weeks wrote in a press release.

Another supervisor Lt. Michael Mills remembers what his first two years on the job were like.

"You're a nervous wreck when you're cut loose as a brand new officer," Mills said. "And for him to progress the way he has with the department, getting this honor is fantastic and we're very proud of him."

Law enforcement runs in Keen's family. His step father is a Major in the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office. His mother worked for the Department of Corrections. Eventually he wants to become a detective, and work to prevent human trafficking - something he said he became passionate about in high school.

Keen is also a licensed minister. He said he hopes to eventually take time to do missions work.

After his boss told him he was nominated by his peers for the award, Keen questioned whether he was worthy of the department's highest honor.

Mills dismissed it - saying Keen is genuine at all times.

"I'm sure he's just like he is when he was in front of the camera, like I said, he's not putting on a show," Mills said. "...It's just a matter of changing clothes for him to come out and do what he does for the community."

Keen will be formally awarded at the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce dinner and gala on March 23.

Keen said being awarded by his peers is validating and reminds him he's doing the work he is supposed to be doing.

He still has more to learn.
But he also has just as much to give.

"I kinda have this theory that if we're not really helping each other then we're doing something to hurt each other," Keen said. "So my goal each day is to be a positive influence in someone's life."