At the Tustin Police Department, swearing in new hires and promoting current employees is always a family affair.
In fact, the entire police department is often referred to as one big family.
Judging by the standing-room-only crowd that packed Tustin City Council Chambers on June 13 for the swearing-in/promotion ceremony, that analogy is more than a mere cliché.
Two new police officers and one communications officer were sworn in on that day, one sergeant was promoted to lieutenant, one police officer was promoted to sergeant, and one cadet was promoted to detention officer.
Family members, friends, and current Tustin Police Department and City of Tustin employees were on hand to celebrate each one.
Tustin Police Chief Stu Greenberg called it a “great day for Tustin.”
“I’ve only been here for six months now,” Greenberg said. “There is a strong family bond here. We look out for each other. We take care of each other. Nobody does this job alone. Having the family members here to celebrate this day with us is extremely important.”
He pointed out how a law enforcement career “changes lives” and some situations would be virtually impossible to get through without the support of family.
“I’m blessed to have my family and friends here,” said Lt. Stephanie Nichols, who was promoted from the rank of sergeant to lieutenant as her husband, four children, parents, and two brothers watched from the audience.
“We miss out on a lot of things and I just want to tell you guys I love you very much,” Nichols said.
Detention Officer Kyle Meyer
Meyer, an aspiring police officer, was hired as a cadet at the Tustin Police Department in July 2018, working in the Professional Standards Division and then in the Property and Evidence Unit.
In April 2019, Meyer became a part-time detention officer and completed the Orange County Sheriff’s Adult Corrections Core Course in May.
Meyer graduated from Norco High School in 2018 and was an Explorer with the Brea Police Department for three years.
Police Officer Chelsea Martin
Martin was hired by the Tustin Police Department in February 2019 as a reserve officer before becoming a full-time police officer in May. Before coming to Tustin, Martin served at the Laguna Beach Police Department after graduating from the Golden West College Police Academy in June 2018.
She grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita and graduated from Trabuco Hills High School in 2010.
Martin graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2016, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in forensics.
Sgt. Diego Gomez
A native of Tijuana, Mexico, Gomez was hired by the Tustin Police Department as a police officer in June 2007 and was promoted to sergeant in April 2019. Gomez has worked in patrol, special enforcement, gangs, and as a field training officer.
Prior to coming to Tustin, Gomez worked at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department from 2005 to 2007.
Gomez received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Cal State Fullerton in 2006. Prior to attending Cal State Fullerton, he served as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Navy.
Lt. Stephanie Nichols
A 20-year veteran of the Tustin Police Department, Nichols was promoted to lieutenant in April 2019.
Nichols was hired by the Tustin Police Department in August 1999. She graduated from the Golden West College police academy a short time later.
She was promoted to sergeant in 2009 and worked in the General Investigations Unit and Patrol.
Nichols earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Cal State Fullerton in 1996 and went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration from Cal State Fullerton in 1999.
From 1994 to 1999, Nichols was a police cadet for the Orange Police Department. She graduated from El Dorado High School in Placentia in 1991.
Communications Officer Ashley Cravens
Cravens was hired as a communications officer by the Tustin Police Department in April 2019. She graduated from Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine in 2016 and went on to earn an associate’s degree in communication studies from Irvine Valley College.
Police Officer Merwin Caiza
Caiza, who is currently in field training, was hired by the Tustin Police Department as a recruit in September 2018. He graduated from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy in May 2019.
Caiza served eight years in the U.S. Marines and was deployed overseas three times. He was born in Ecuador, immigrated to the U.S. at age 7, and went on to graduate from Woodrow Wilson High School in Los Angeles in 2010.
Police Officer Cody Clay
Clay is currently in the Tustin Police Department’s field training program.
He was hired as police recruit in Tustin and graduated from the Orange County Sheriff’s Training Academy in May 2019.
Clay graduated from Mater Dei High School and earned a scholarship to play football at Azusa Pacific University. He played pro football for the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons before transitioning to law enforcement.