The tremendous responsibility that comes with choosing a career in law enforcement mixed with the ever-changing climate toward police officers has resulted in high vacancy rates across the nation’s police departments.
However, in Tustin, a community that considers law enforcement to be family, the Department filled a total of nine positions, including two promotions, one police volunteer and one chaplain on Thursday, Jan. 16 at a ceremony at City Hall.
“For those of you in law enforcement, you know that this is a big day because law enforcement (has seen) a tremendous rate of turnover in the last few years,” Tustin Police Chief Stu Greenberg said. “Every agency that I’m aware of is scrambling to hire people and trying to get back to normal staffing levels, so it’s very exciting for us to have this many new people joining our family in our department and promoting others.”
Two police officers were promoted to sergeant, an administrative assistant, police records specialist, communications officer, and master reserve officer were sworn-in, and a police cadet, volunteer and chaplain were welcomed during the ceremony.
Family members, friends, and current Tustin Police Department and City of Tustin employees were there to celebrate.
“This is our family right here, and we’re thankful that you’re here and that your loved ones are coming to join us and be a part of our team,” Greenberg told the families in attendance. “We’re going to take good care of them.”
Sgt. Natalie Nguyen
Sgt. Nguyen started her career in law enforcement as an explorer for the Fountain Valley Police Department.
She graduated from California State University, Fullerton in 2003, earning a bachelor’s degree in science and later obtained her master’s degree from Webster University.
She was hired by the Tustin Police Department in 2004 and completed Golden West Police Academy, Class 128, in 2005.
Nguyen has worked patrol, special enforcement detail, general investigations, and as a field training officer.
“To all my friends and my peers who have been there to support me, guide me and teach me along the way, there is no way I could stand here and thank all of you or express in one day or even in a lifetime how much I appreciate all the things you’ve all done for me over the past years,” Nguyen said.
Sgt. Andrew Gleason
Sgt. Gleason graduated from El Modena High School in 2004 and then joined the United States Marine Corps, attaining the rank of sergeant.
He graduated from the Golden West College Police Academy, Class 141, in 2011 and was hired by the Tustin Police Department that same year.
Gleason has worked patrol, as a field training officer, and the special enforcement detail.
“I appreciate the support and specifically for the opportunity,” Gleason said. “I won’t let you down. This place is a family and I am here to serve all you guys, the city, and I’m really excited to do it.”
Administrative Assistant Wendy Hill
Hill was born in Indiana and raised in East Hanover, N.J.
She graduated from Brigham Young University, earning a bachelor’s degree in science and later obtained her master’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University.
The Tustin Police Department hired Hill in December 2019.
Police Cadet Ian Garibay
Garibay graduated from Orange High School in June 2019 and is currently attending Santiago Canyon College, majoring in psychology.
He is in the process of completing his certificate for American Sign Language and is pursuing a career in law enforcement.
“It’s a true honor to be a part of the Tustin Police Department,” Garibay said. “I’d like to personally thank Chief Greenberg for this opportunity to start my career here.”
Police Records Specialist Analysa Gallegos
Gallegos graduated from Arizona State University, earning two bachelor of science degrees in psychology and criminology and one in criminal justice. She later obtained a master of arts degree in criminal Justice.
“Everyone says it’s family here and I already feel that and I am so appreciative that I got to join this family,” Gallegos said. “I want to thank my family for sticking with me and supporting me through my education and then the application process.”
In 2018, Gallegos completed an internship with the Costa Rican Police Force and was hired by the Tustin Police Department in October 2019.
Police Communications Officer Madison Crum
Crum graduated from El Dorado High School in 2014.
She completed the POST Public Safety Dispatcher Basic Course at the Golden West College Criminal Justice Training Center and was hired by the Tustin Police Department in 2019.
“I just wanted to thank Chief Greenberg for this opportunity, and my supervisor Kristen has been amazing,” Crum said. “A couple of girls in this room I work with have been so welcoming and helpful every day.”
Police Services Officer Kert Siemiawski
Siemiawski was born and raised in Chicago. He attended the Illinois State Police Academy and worked for the Skokie Police Department as a sworn officer for 27 years before retiring in July 2019 and moving to Southern California.
He was hired by the Tustin Police Department in 2019.
“I came here as an outsider, but from the moment I walked into the doors of Tustin PD, everybody had a smile on their face,” Siemiawski said. “It was great to see. I mean, the welcome was overwhelming.”
Police Services Officer Sidonia Vega
Vega graduated from Cal State Fullerton, earning a bachelor’s degree, and was a member of the Army ROTC while attending college.
Vega enlisted in the Army National Guard, completing her sessions of boot camp in June 2019. She is scheduled to deploy to Cuba in August 2020.
The Tustin Police Department hired Vega part-time in October 2019 and on Jan. 6, 2020, she was promoted to a full-time police services officer and assigned to the field.
“From day one, I’ve always felt welcome and part of the family,” Vega said. “Being born and raised here, I knew this is something I wanted to do with my life and then I get to serve my country and I’m really appreciative for it.”
Master Reserve Officer Kathleen Helmick
Helmick graduated from Righetti High School and went to work for the United States Secret Service. She then graduated from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Regional Training Academy and joined the Anaheim Police Department, retiring in November 2018 after 30 years of service.
The Tustin Police Department hired Helmick in November 2019 as a part-time master reserve officer.
“I appreciate everything that everybody has done here for me and I truly appreciate the opportunity to work here,” Helmick said. “Like others have said before, the welcoming that you receive from this department is unsurpassed.”
Volunteer Robert Tischler
Tischler was born in Connecticut and raised in Anaheim.
He graduated from UC Irvine, earning a bachelor’s degree, and worked in the aerospace industry for 27 years before retiring in 2012.
“It’s been a real privilege and an honor to be working with such a great group of people here,” Tischler said. “It’s been terrific, and I look forward to serving you guys in whatever way I can.”
Police Chaplain Nesan Kistan
Kistan graduated from the University of Wallongong with an honor’s degree in political science and psychology. He later obtained a master of arts degree in Theology.
He worked closely with the New South Whales Police Department for over 10 years serving as their chaplain.
Kistan currently is affiliated with the Salvation Army, California South Division.
“It’s a real privilege to be a part of this amazing community and serving the men and women of the Tustin PD,” Kistan said. “These men and women serve our community diligently and selflessly, and so being able to share a small part of their journey, it’s truly a privilege and honor.”