2 women to join the sher­iffs’ ros­ter

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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