[Press Release] Sergeant Angela Sands named as the recipient of the 2023 Lamplighter Award
Celebrating a Beacon of Courage: The Lamplighter Award for Moral Courage in Law Enforcement
Just a few weeks ago, on the momentous occasion of National Whistleblower Day, the historic streets of Washington, D.C. resonated with a unique energy. In the heart of this iconic city, we, the Board of Directors of the Lamplighter Project, convened. Our mission was not only to hold our quarterly meeting and honor the festivities and spirit of NWD, but also to finalize the selection of this year's recipient of the esteemed Lamplighter Award for Moral Courage in Law Enforcement.
This year, we proudly spotlight Sergeant Angela Sands.
On August 23, 2023, we announced that former Lincoln, Nebraska Police Sergeant Angela Sands would be this year's beacon of moral courage. Our award, dedicated to recognizing the brave whistleblowers in law enforcement, celebrates those who, against all odds, dare to expose corruption, injustice, or misconduct.
Sands, previously recognized as Nebraska’s Officer of the Year in 2016, epitomized what it means to be a true whistleblower. She fearlessly unveiled and challenged the deep-rooted culture of sexual misconduct, including harrowing instances of harassment and rape, within the Lincoln Police Department. Opting to engage directly with the city's mayor and sidelining the traditional departmental routes, her actions empowered countless other officers to come forward with their haunting narratives. However, her audacity was met with a cruel twist: termination in December 2021. It's a somber reminder of the perilous path that whistleblowers, especially in institutions like the LPD, often tread.
Our decision to honor Angela is more than accolade-giving. She, like previous awardees, was selected by an awards committee of prominent law enforcement whistleblowers. Her selection stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to championing and supporting those law enforcement whistleblowers who make the difficult choice to prioritize truth over tradition. We remain firm in our belief that "The world would be a darker place without lamplighters like Angela." Even more so, it stands as a tribute to a family beyond the "Blue Line" or the "Blue Wall." A family of law enforcement officers, who in the face of relentless personal sacrifice, danger and opposition, chose to keep their oath to their community and themselves. Angela Sands also now joins the ranks of previous awardees and historic whistleblowers like Javier Esqueda and Shannon Spalding.
In the heart of Washington, D.C., where every cobblestone and column bears the weight of history and aspiration, confirming Angela's selection felt like tracing the very lines that connect the past to the present. Here, in a city that has witnessed the birth of revolutions and the echoes of countless voices demanding justice, we find a resonance in Angela’s story. The grandeur of the Capitol dome, the steadfastness of the Washington Monument, and the hope reflected in the Lincoln Memorial all symbolize the enduring spirit of those who stand for what's right, even when faced with towering odds. Just as these landmarks rise above the cityscape, illuminating the nation's capital with their presence, Angela stands tall as a beacon among law enforcement officers. In her, we see not just an officer, but a whistleblower who, like the foundational heroes of this city, challenges the status quo, seeking a brighter tomorrow. Lifting her up is our tribute to both the historic essence of D.C. and the modern-day heroes who continue its legacy of courage and truth.
This year, our awards committee was inundated with nominations, each chronicling the tales of commendable law enforcement whistleblowers who took a stand amidst challenging circumstances. The stories we came across were not only heartrending but also served as powerful testaments to the valor and integrity displayed by officers nationwide. While we could confer the award on only one recipient, it's essential to underscore that each story, each act of courage, holds monumental significance in our eyes. The voting process was painstakingly close, a clear reflection of the depth of heroism and sacrifice witnessed across the board. Though only one lamplighter could be spotlighted this year, it is crucial to remember that every whistleblower's narrative matters and plays a pivotal role in shaping a more transparent and just future.
As we reflect upon our recent assembly in D.C., the spirit of whistleblowing and our mission continues to inspire, beckoning more officers to rise, unveil the truth, and be the beacon in the darkest of nights. Light the Lamps!