LAKE PLACID - When Heather Mulligan began working as code enforcement officer a few years ago, she noticed that a lot of people had chickens.
The only problem was that the town does not allow chickens, she said.
So Mulligan, who is now a sergeant with the Lake Placid Police Department, began seeking compliance.
Now, "there are no chickens," she said.
That and other efforts to make sure the city code was enforced and that Lake Placid remained an attractive city may have resulted in some calling her a barracuda and in some respects her not always being the most popular person in town, Mulligan said.
But it's what Elks Lodge #2661 called her recently that may be more important. Upon receiving a recommendation from Police Chief James Fansler, the Elks named her Officer of the Year for 2013.
In a letter to the Elks, Fansler noted that Mulligan, who was promoted to sergeant last year, has pushed to do more.
He said that Mulligan enrolled in a course to become a shift supervisor and had to travel to Winter Haven to attend the class, while also working full time in code enforcement. She completed that course, while also enrolled in college classes, he said.
And that's not all, Fansler wrote. In addition, she gained certification to be a child safety seat technician and hold bicycle safety clinics through out Highlands County, he said.
Now, Mulligan said, she's taking courses to become a fire inspector so she can check whether the town's fire codes are being followed.
She's also certified to investigate accidents that involve homicides. Recently, she said, she investigated a single car accident where the driver died.
"I like to spread my wings and get into everything," she said, about being certified in so many areas.
Despite what some believe, Mulligan said she often gets people to follow the codes by just talking with them. When she's working on the law enforcement end, she said, she doesn't give everyone a ticket.
She said she stopped by a teenager who told her, "I was warned about you."
When she asked him why he was warned, he replied, "I heard you aren't very nice. I heard you never give people breaks."
Her reply, she said, was "For that, I'm giving you a break."
She also says she deals with problems, such as high grass, unleashed dogs, businesses without licenses and unlicensed construction work.
In many cases, Mulligan said, people comply with the codes after getting verbal and written warnings. Others end up with fines totaling thousands of dollars that end up being liens on the property, she said.
"Sgt. Mulligan is a great asset to the department as well as the town of Lake Placid," Fansler said.
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