When Fullerton Police Capt. Lorraine Jones thinks back to why she became a police officer some 30 years ago, the answer isn’t very complicated.
“It sounds cliché, but it’s just what I always wanted to do,” she said. “I really don’t know why. It was a calling. I like helping people, interacting with people, being a problem solver.”
Jones, who turns 50 on Aug. 24, has the distinction of being the department’s first female captain and lieutenant. She announced in July that this September she would retire from the place she has called home since 1984.
“I feel like I have worked hard for 30 years and the organization is in a really good place right now,” she said. “We have a lot of good future leaders ready to move up, and it’s time to give them the opportunity to be promoted.”
Jones started at the police department as a cadet. At the time, she said she was attending Fullerton College with about 10 others who ended up joining the Fullerton police force. One of those classmates and fellow cadets was a young Dan Hughes, who is now Chief of police.
“She’s a great police officer but she is even more so a fabulous person,” said Hughes, who noted that he also named Jones the first acting police chief in his absence. “One of the things that stands out about Capt. Jones is her encouragement. She’s a dear friend and I’m going to miss her.”
Jones was named captain two and a half years ago, and at that time the department reorganized and eliminated a third captain position. So she and Capt. George Crum split up the duties. He handles the uniform divisions of Patrol, Traffic, Gangs and Narcotics. She took over Support Services, which encompasses Detective Bureau, Community Services Bureau, School resource officers, etc. Records Bureau the Jail Budget Personnel and Training and Internal Affairs and Property divisions
In 30 years, Jones has handled a multitude of cases, but one that really stands out in her mind was a case in the family crimes unit. Police learned a step-dad was molesting his step-daughter for four years and the mother was aware of the abuse. Police intervened when another family member tipped them off.
Jones said that even though the abuser is serving life in prison, cases like those are very hard on the detectives who work on them.
“The way you get through it is by knowing the ultimate result is that you are putting someone in jail so they can’t victimize a child ever again,” she said. “It is very rewarding to put those handcuffs on a child molester.”
Her most challenging assignment was her three-and-a-half-year stint working as an accident investigator. During that time, there was an unusually large number of children killed in car accidents.
Jones said as a police officer, you are expected to deal with it and move on to the next call. But it took its toll.
“Seeing little kids run over by cars and having to tell parents that their children are dead was emotionally draining on me,” Jones said.
Jones, who was born at St. Jude and raised in nearby Anaheim, said she came to Fullerton to go to college and has never left.
“Anaheim felt like a city and Fullerton felt like a community,” she said.
Her police career has been one of great distinction. After being sworn in as police officer in 1986, Jones worked in Patrol, Crime Scene Investigation, Detectives, Accident Investigation and Recruiting. In 2002, she was promoted to the rank of sergeant. She became a lieutenant in 2010 and captain in 2012. She holds both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree with Cal State University Long Beach.
Along the way, Jones received multiple honors. She was recognized by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (former Fullerton mayor) at the annual Celebrating Women in Leadership Conference. In 2011, she was cited by Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez as a Woman Leader in Fullerton.
Jones isn’t exactly going to fade away from community service. When she is not traveling or playing softball, she will be volunteering, especially with the two nonprofit organizations where she serves on the board of directors, the YWCA of North Orange County and Crittenton So Cal.
Jones said the YWCA provides more door-to-door mobile breast cancer screenings than any other group in Orange County, serving some 6,000 women a year. Crittenton So Cal provides services to young women who are victims of human trafficking, abuse or abandonment.
Jones, who a year ago married her partner of 17 years, Rhonda, said she is grateful that her family has always been supportive of her police career and the demand it takes on her personal life.
But she wouldn’t trade it for anything
“I am proud of the Fullerton Police Department and being allowed to be a member of it for the last 30 years,” Jones said. “I hope I left this place better than I found it and I believe I’m leaving it in good hands.”
Jones will officially retire Sept. 4 and there will be a cake and punch reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Fullerton Community Center across from the Police Department.
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