Since February of 2000, Officer Dana Cummings has been putting on body armor, hopping in a squad car each workday, and driving to all the places in Madison that people call for help. "I've been in patrol my entire career" Dana says with her trademark cheer. Colleagues call the dynamic, hiking-camping-kayaking rescue cat owner tenacious, dedicated, and selfless. "Dana is one of the best patrol cops in our department, male or female" says Officer Linda Baehmann. Baehmann would know – she trained thirteen MPD Academy classes, and continues to serve in the field.
Officer Cummings spent part of her childhood on a farm, and some of her fondest childhood memories are baling hay, doing chores, and chasing down the dairy cows if they got out. Dana took her work ethic and speed to other facets of life as a teen; she got her first job at 14 at a local Dairy Queen, and ran competitively in high school. Dana also worked at a small-town bakery, serving customers at the front counter and doing "lots of dishes!" she laughingly recalls. After high school, Dana obtained a degree in Natural Resource Management from UW-Stevens Point, and worked in Montana and Middleton prior to applying to MPD.
When asked about an impactful call she has serviced over the last two decades, Dana recalls a child abuse investigation early in her career. MPD was asked to check on a little girl; relatives who did not live at the household were worried for her welfare. Dana and another officer found the child huddled under a bed, with burns and scars on her malnourished body. "I grew up thinking it's imperative that families be there for each other," Dana reflects. "When I saw this, I thought 'How could someone treat a child like that?'" Dana continued on in her career, and despite the terrible things a patrol officer sees, she has not lost hope. "I really, truly try to focus on the positives in life" she says.