Kathy Palacio loves paperwork.
“I know, it’s the weirdest thing, but I love it,” said the Orange PD Records Manager.
Because of the need for maintaining a paper trail, organization is key to her work – in fact, she recently reorganized the agency’s archive room, which holds all the physical files, to a nearly spotless state.
“I don’t think there’s any way you could do this job without being organized,” she said.
Palacio has a long history with the agency. She first started as a police explorer at age 15. Then she was a police cadet for 2 1/2 years before becoming a part-time records clerk. In 2004, she went full-time and in 2012, she became a records shift supervisor. She’s had her current position as records manager since May.
“I never really played sports or anything,” Palacio said about why she became an explorer. Before joining the explorer program, she was a Girl Scout. “I was always kind of into the public services.”
Born and raised in Santa Ana, she planned to join that agency’s explorer program – but she decided to join the Orange PD program with a friend. Her friend ended up leaving the program, and Palacio stayed for 4 1/12 years.
She originally wanted to become a police officer, but realized while an explorer that she preferred other areas of law enforcement.
“Being here in records, I was still in law enforcement but it was just a different aspect of it,” she said.
In 2012, she became the explorer post advisor.
“For me, it was a way to give back,” she said. “Plus, it was with the department I grew up in pretty much.”
However, with her new job and duties requiring most of her attention, she recently retired from the explorer advisor position. She will miss it, though she doesn’t plan to be too far away from the program.
“I still go around and talk to the kids,” she said.
Palacio still is in the learning phase of her new position, but she said she’s enjoyed it quite a bit. She’s already been part of helping to implement a new online reporting system at the agency called Field Based Reporting, which allows officers to input their reports electronically through an email-type system vs. the old method of typing in reports, printing them out and getting physical sign-offs.
These days her work consists of a wider responsibility over records, including interacting with internal affairs, human resources, finance, the city attorney and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“You’re the custodian of records in the department,” she said.
The OPD records department operates 24/7 and consists of 13 employees. Recently, the department went through a DOJ audit, which involves randomized paperwork checks with a month-in-advance notification of the audit.
“In the meantime, you have to make sure all your records are how they’re supposed to be,” she said.
Palacio said one of her favorite things about working in Records is the people she gets to interact with both inside and outside of the department.
“It’s a lot of people that I’ve grown up with,” she said.
Palacio said the agency is like a second home for her.
“I enjoy coming to work every day regardless of the bad day I may be having,” she said. “I come in and out like it’s my home… I enjoy coming to work.”