|Retired Highland Heights Police Lieutenant Amber Conrad with her K9 partner Tiba. (Img: Matt Haverkamp Foundation)|
By Robin Gee, city council beat editor
Highland Heights is celebrating the retirement of one, actually two, of its officers — Lieutenant Amber Conrad and her trusted canine police partner Tiba. Both Conrad and Tiba received plaques for their service from the Highland Heights Police Department.
Conrad is a 20-year veteran of the department and the first female officer to join the Newport Campbell County SWAT team in 2002. Highland Heights Police Chief Bill Birkenhauer read from a plaque created to honor Officer Conrad and spoke in depth about her outstanding career.
She started with the department in April 2000 and was recognized early on for leadership in the Police Academy basic training class, he said. She went on to become a field training officer and later took over that program within the department. She rose through the ranks quickly becoming a lieutenant and eventually serving as the administrative lieutenant, filling in for the chief as needed and supporting the department.
Throughout her career, said the chief, Conrad took every advantage to acquire more training including a stint at the FBI National Academy and the Southern Police Institute.
Birkenhauer said he came to rely on her professionalism and attention to detail and credited her with helping the department earn important accreditation.
"At the time I took over, Amber was my administrative police lieutenant. She took over the day-to-day operations on many occasions...Every task she took on she did beyond expectations. In 2014, the police department was accredited through the Kentucky Police Chiefs Association. That was an involved process...We passed with flying colors the first time and all credit goes to her for that. And most recently, we were due for re-accreditation, Amber took that on again even though she was coming close to her retirement and even worked on it in her last weeks here knowing she was retiring," he noted.
"I just want to thank her for all she’s done for the city of Highland Heights, the police department and for me personally," he said.
An advocate for the K9 program
A second plaque was given to Tiba who retired as well. An advocate of the K9 program, Conrad had three partner canines over the years, working with Tiba from 2013 until their retirement in 2020. Tiba came with the help of the Matt Haverkamp Foundation, named for an Ohio K9 officer. Tiba was named in honor of his dog, Tibo.
"The Matt Haverkamp Foundation would like to congratulate Lieutenant Amber Conrad and K9 Tiba on their well-deserved retirement," said Nancy Haverkamp. "They were our first female K9 team and our first K9 team in Northern Kentucky. We are proud of their many accomplishments and are grateful for their service."
City Attorney Steve Franzen said, as a prosecutor, he could not say enough about the respect Conrad earned at the courthouse for her accuracy and honesty. He also noted her contributions as one of the area's first K9 officers.
"For a long time in her career she was the only K9 officer in the county, sometimes in all of Northern KY, so when the Drug Strike Force or anybody needed a dog, they would call Amber." The call could come at 3 a.m. or 4 p.m. but Conrad and her K9 partners always answered the call, he noted.
Praise from officials and colleagues
Kentucky State Senator Wil Schroder was also on hand to congratulate Conrad and present her (virtually) with a citation from the state senate for her 20 years of service to the community.
"I just want to wish you congratulations...I got to work with you a little bit when I was at the Commonwealth attorney’s office. The bittersweet part for the community, I know, is going to be a loss...but we are excited for you."
City council members took turns congratulating the officer and wishing her well.
"I enjoyed all my years in Highland Heights,” said Conrad. “I’ve always felt very supported by every chief I’ve worked for, especially Chief Birkenhauer. I’ve always felt supported by the mayor and city council. I loved working here. It is a very fond memory for me, everything that I did... Thank you for doing this. This is very nice."
Conrad, who started her retirement in April, said, while she misses the department and her friends, she has been enjoying her retirement as well. In the next chapter of her life, she has taken a position as School Resource Officer in Grant’s Lick.