2 women to join the sheriffs’ roster
What began as a challenging dream will culminate in an impressive accomplishment when two women join the deputy sheriffs’ roster later this month.
Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh recalled the day about a year and a half ago when security officers Marjorie V. Gonzalez and Deborah A. Holmes requested a meeting with her.
“I remember being quite nervous,” Welsh said. “They had been doing such a great job as security officers, and I was afraid they were going to tell me that they had accepted another position somewhere else.”
Welsh said one of the perils of the county’s employment pay scale is that members of her office are frequently lured to higher-paying opportunities.
But Gonzalez and HoImes quickly allayed the sheriff’s fears. They explained that they had been discussing the possibility of attending Delaware County Community College’s Police Academy. If they pursued the part-time program, they could continue as security officers during the year-long curriculum. At the end, they would graduate with Act 120 certification, which is mandated by Pennsylvania to work as a police officer. It also represented the lone requirement preventing the two from moving up the ranks and becoming deputy sheriffs.
Gonzalez and Holmes wanted to hear Welsh’s reaction to their idea.
“I was excited and very happy for them,” Welsh said. “I gave them enthusiastic support and then watched as they went through the process.”
Gonzalez said the sheriff’s encouragement didn’t surprise her. “She has always been incredibly supportive,” Gonzalez said. What caught Gonzalez off guard was the speed with which the sheriff’s backing spread. “She called in the chief and then the lieutenants, and all of them were just great,” Gonzalez said. “I really wasn’t expecting that.”
Holmes said the seeds of the plan date back to March 2014 when she began working in the Sheriff’s Office. She said a longtime friend who was working as a deputy immediately suggested that she attend the police academy. At the time, the single mother said her plate was full. In addition to caring for her two sons, she was also providing assistance to her father, who was seriously ill.
But Holmes, a Coatesville High graduate who studied criminal justice at West Chester University, said her friend’s urgings didn’t stop. And when a colleague in the CCSO security force enrolled in the academy in 2017, Holmes regularly peppered him with questions: What do you have to do? How hard is it?
The answers helped Holmes make up her mind in the summer of 2018, secure in the knowledge that she would be fulfilling a wish for her that her late father had often expressed. At the time, she didn’t know that
Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh (center) joins Marjorie V. Gonzalez (left) and Deborah A. Holmes at the pair’s graduation from the Delaware County Community College Police Academy.