She can play the clarinet, is halfway toward earning her black belt in karate, and has a real talent for home remodeling.
Umm, not so much.
But that didn’t stop Ashley Serota, a civilian employee in the Records Department of the Garden Grove PD, from turning to a co-worker one day last year and saying:
“Hey, wouldn’t this be cool?”
Serota, 25, was referring to an agency-wide contest to design a new Chief’s Coin for Merit to mark the appointment of incoming Chief Todd Elgin, who took over Jan. 1, 2015 from retired Chief Kevin Raney.
Serota posed the question to Cheryl Whitney, 37, who now works in Dispatch.
Whitney thought it would be a cool idea to enter the contest, too.
So both started doodling concepts on paper.
Whitney, an art major at Cal State Fullerton before she switched to criminal justice, didn’t give Serota much grief when Serota drew stick people on a prospective design.
Another GGPD employee with questionable drawing skills, Dispatcher Susan Seymour 35, also wanted to get into the act.
So Seymour tapped the talents of her husband, David, a graphic designer, to help her come up with some concepts.
Ultimately, the trio of civilian employees at the GGPD beat out more than a dozen other entries, with Elgin selecting their design for his new coin.
Serota and Whitney designed one side of the coin, Seymour (and her husband) the other.
Raney launched the Chief’s Coin for Merit program in 2011 to recognize Good Samaritans for acts ranging from chasing after armed robbers to aiding accident victims to serving as good eyewitnesses.
The coin program, he and Elgin have said, helps strengthen ties between Garden Grove residents and police officers.
Serota, Whitney and Seymour agree.
“It helps get the community more involved and also helps people realize there’s a lot to like about the police and our agency,” Seymour said.
“There’s a lot of good our officers do every day,” Serota said.
“It’s also nice to recognize the citizens of Garden Grove for their good deeds,” Whitney said.
It’s also nice, the women said, that non-sworn members of the department came up with the winning coin design.
“Score one for the civilians!” said Whitney, the PD’s Civilian of the Year for 2014.
“The Chief’s Coin for Merit is important because the partnership between the community and the Garden Grove Police Department is key in collaboration,” Elgin said. “The citizens that go out of their why to help out other citizens or police officers are deserving of our appreciation, and a symbolic coin is a nice way to recognize these citizens.”
Seymour’s design prominently shows the PD badge with Elgin’s name and four stars (signifying the rank of chief) on both edges of the coin.
“I felt that the badge was the most important part of the uniform our officers put on every day,” Seymour said.
The badge also shows the number 32 — the station number for the GGPD.
Serota and Whitney added the word “community” to the PD’s motto of “courage, courtesy and commitment” around symbols of the U.S. flag, the Garden Grove Police Officer Memorial, the city seal, and the landmark “Tower on the Green” clock tower.
“Though all the other submitted 2015 Chief’s Coin designs were excellent, the coin that was designed by Ashley, Cheryl and Susan really encompassed the best of the relationship between the Garden Grove Police Department and the community,” Elgin said.
The new chief’s coin is expected to be handed out for three years — a departure from the past, when the coin was redesigned every year.
In 2014, officers and civilians of the GGPD handed out more than 110 Chief’s Coins for Merit.
Serota, Whitney and Seymour attended, for the first time, a dinner in early February that recognized the 2014 Chief’s Coin for Merit recipients.
“It was amazing to see what people did to help the police out,” Serota said.
Added Whitney: “I really hope that I can give someone a coin this year.”
If she does, she can tell the recipient about the three people who designed it.