Michelle Estrada joined Garden Grove Police Department’s explorer program when she was 16. And now, at age 21, she’s one of the newest members of the agency’s sworn officers.
She, along with Officer Brad Stene and Officer Jason Muro, officially became part of the GGPD at a swearing-in ceremony at the Garden Grove Community Meeting Center on Aug. 23.
“This is the best police department in the county of Orange, flat out,” GGPD Chief Todd Elgin said as he welcomed and thanked family and colleagues there to celebrate the newest hires. “And we’re going to get better.”
He called up each of the officers, telling the audience a little about each of them, before they had their badges pinned by a family member.
Estrada, who has a psychology degree from Cal State Fullerton, was a GGPD explorer from age 16 to 19.
“Through that time, I was able to get different leadership positions there,” she told Behind the Badge, adding that she eventually became an explorer lieutenant.
She then was hired as a cadet. In that role, she assisted the Youth Services Unit and the Gang Suppression Unit.
The Garden Grove native is very excited about her new job. She said that she looked up a great deal to all her advisors at the agency – and now she’s part of the agency officially.
“It’s almost surreal,” she said. “It’s me that’s going to be out in the field.”
Muro is a lateral transfer from Tustin Police Department, where he worked for 11 years – including assignments on the firearms unit, Special Response Team, SWAT team and as a Field Training Officer. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years, attaining the rank of sergeant.
“My dad was a police officer for almost 30 years,” he told BTB. “Growing up, he was kind of my hero.”
He said he feels blessed with this opportunity to join the GGPD. And once he establishes himself at the agency, he does have an assignment he’d like to pursue.
“I’d like to get into narcotics – that’s always been a dream of mine,” he said.
Prior to deciding to join law enforcement, Stene was an EMT for nine years. He worked for Care Ambulance Service, which covered Garden Grove. But he’s had his sights set on law enforcement for a while. He said when he was growing up in Garden Grove, he wanted to become a police officer. But he shifted over to the firefighter/medic track around high school.
“I always wanted to be a police officer,” Stene told BTB. “Anytime I would answer a call, I always had the drive to do what the police officers were doing. … Being a police officer was always something that intrigued me.”
He’s looking forward to his new job, and feels his background as an EMT can help him do his job better.
“You have a different way of talking to people,” he said of his time as an EMT. “I think it’s a benefit more than anything.”