For Police Service Aid Lesley Guerrero, the La Habra Police Department (LHPD) isn’t just a place that she works at – it’s a place where she has chosen to begin her public safety career, a place close to her heart.
“This department is home for me,” Guerrero said. “I truly feel like I belong here because of the people that work here. The officers have invested so much of their time in me.”
Guerrero’s history at LHPD started in 2015 and was spurred on by her older brother, Luis Guerrero.
Her brother was always interested in a law enforcement career with LHPD. Guerrero said Luis was eager to help people and bring justice.
Because he was born with a mass on his brain that caused him to have seizures, Luis had to undergo voluntary brain surgery if he wanted to reach his dream of becoming a police officer.
While doctors were able to remove the mass, an artery was severed, causing massive brain bleeding. A seven-month battle to recover from the surgery followed.
LHPD found out about Luis’ dreams of becoming a police officer and what had happened during the surgery. With help from the La Habra Police Association, the department held a fundraiser for Luis, visited him in the hospital, and donated money to help cover costs.
Luis would never recover. His plans to become an officer were cut short and in November 2015, he passed away.
“Luis was like my mentor so when he passed away, at first I (became a police explorer) for him, to honor of him,” Guerrero said. “But as I started to be here, I started to actually find that I had a passion for this career myself.”
After participating in the La Habra Police department’s Explorer Post, Guerrero became a Police Service Aide (PSA) for La Habra PD. Guerrero’s next short-term goal is to successfully become a Parking Enforcement Officer after completing the testing process.
“Working here really helped me build discipline and it makes me feel that I actually belong somewhere,” Guerrero said. “Being here gives me direction in life.”
A few years later, LHPD came together again and fundraised, but this time it was for Lesley.
In June of this year, Guerrero found herself in a predicament.
Even though she was excelling as a police service aide, the state mandates a maximum allowed amount of hours worked for part-time employees, tracked in a fiscal year. The PSA position is a part-time position. In June of this year, due to Guerrero’s strong work ethic, she had surpassed the maximum yearly amount of hours allowed.
“June came and I was starting to feel really worried because I knew I had bills to pay,” Guerrero said. “The department staff saw how worried I was and stepped in.”
LHPD quietly sent out an email to the department staff and collected funds to help hold Guerrero over until July when the new fiscal year started and the hours reset.
On Guerrero’s last work, the department presented those funds to her.
“It was amazing to see how they all came together as a family to support me and I just felt so loved that they would do that for me and to think that I’m not even an officer,” Guerrero said. “So, how I give back to them is through my work; I try to be the best version of myself each day here.”
Working as a PSA, Guerrero’s daily tasks at the department include filing police reports, inputting temporary restraining orders, inputting court orders, inputting found/lost property, and giving out parking permits, among other important duties.
Her ultimate goal is to become a police officer at the La Habra Police Department and eventually become a detective.
“With my brother, I think that there was never fully closure for my family,” Guerrero said. “So being a detective and working certain cases to bring justice and peace to others is something that while I have yet to receive, I would like to give.”
Guerrero plans to continue working in non-sworn positions until she graduates from a four-year university.
“I’m really excited where my career is taking me,” Guerrero said. “I truly love coming to work, and I think that when you find a career that you love it brings so much excitement to your life.”
Officers and Detectives alike all say the same things about Guerrero, she is smart, hardworking and dependable.
“Her career options are wide open and I believe she can do anything she wants, and be successful at it”, said Lieutenant Dan Henderson.
“As an explorer, I saw she was special, I know she will be a great officer one day”, said Explorer Adviser Ken Gustin.