Officer Sandra Ruelas - Sep / Oct 16

Officer Sandra Ruelas, who grew up in Orange, got her start with the Police Department when was only 14 years old by volunteering as an Explorer.

Officer Sandra Ruelas

Officer Sandra Ruelas, who was named Non-Sworn Employee of the Year, has been preparing to work with the Orange Police Department for most of her life. After being encouraged by a now retired police officer in her neighborhood when she was 14, Ruelas joined the Explorers program, which trains young men and women to assist the Police Department. It didn’t take her long to move up to explorer captain, and in 2004, she joined the Police Department as a cadet.

“My goal was to give back to my community,” says Ruelas. “I wanted to make a difference in the city of Orange. It’s where I grew up and went to school, so I was familiar with the area.”

As a police officer, Ruelas continues to give back, not only to the community, but to the young men and women following in her footsteps. She actively works with the Explorer program and has served as an Explorer advisor for nine years. Ruelas acknowledges how influential the program was on her life, and she especially appreciates the opportunity to give back to the teenagers in the program who may not have as much structure or direction in their lives.

“Officer Ruelas is about as nice of an individual that you can meet, and her work ethic is phenomenal,” says Police Public Information Officer, Lieutenant Fred Lopez. “You couldn’t pay anyone in the organization to say anything bad about her.”

Lopez’s sentiments ring especially true when considering that Ruelas’ peers voted her as Non-Sworn Employee of the Year. “It was something I didn’t expect to obtain,” says Ruelas. “It felt good to receive it, but I was taken aback. It was an honor.”

Though the job does come with its challenges, Ruelas and her colleagues work hard to maintain a positive outlook and keep their community safe. To Ruelas, the job is worth it if she makes a positive impact on just one person’s life.

Published in the Sep / Oct 16 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Article Written by Elana Katz, photos provided by Jeanine Hill

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