Karen Huggins was hired by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 1993 as a field Community Services Officer. She was responsible for writing parking citations and storing abandoned and over-parked vehicles. In 1995, Karen took a job share position in Records as an Office Specialist. Karen’s duties were vast; from assisting citizens at the front counter, answering phones, data input, care and storage of video tapes, report duplication, citation processing, and general daily assignments. In a word, there was nothing she didn’t do. She was always the first to volunteer to learn something new or try something she hadn’t done before.
Along those lines, she took advantage of working part-time to raise daughter Stephanie, son Carter with husband Kyle. And as the youngest of 6 children, she also entertained on most major holidays. But the most important thing she did with all of her free time was train for Survivor. Her audition video quickly moved from viewing around the house to around the station. The image of her emerging from their pond with a whole salmon in her mouth is forever embedded in the minds of many of the employees who have passed through San Clemente Police Services.
Last year, on October 24th, 2008, Karen was promoted to a full-time position as an Investigative Assistant assigned to San Clemente. As with everything Karen does, she jumped in and gave 120%. Her supervisor quotes: “Karen is developing into an outstanding Investigative Assistant. Karen has written many search warrants, has assisted in the service of search warrants, inputs all San Clemente cases into the records management system and maintains the pawn slips and field interview cards. Karen has become a vital part of the San Clemente Investigative team. She is considered a valued member and is well respected by her peers, deputies and supervisors. Karen is an outstanding employee and a joy to supervise.” That is all so very true and that’s the reason we’re here today to honor her.
It would not be fair to stop there. Karen has also fallen victim to the budget difficulties that are affecting our department. She was originally laid-off but has now taken a demotion to a Community Services Officer position and is assigned to the Aliso Viejo station. Yet in her short time here she has done more than most sworn officers will ever do in their careers. Many will never have the ability to work with the resources and allied agencies that we in law enforcement have yet Karen has done that over-and-over. Many will never get the glorious assignment of sitting a vehicle for hours without fresh air or water or a bathroom while doing surveillance yet Karen did. Many will never write a search warrant yet she has done multiple. Many will never have the knowledge and confidence to correct a judge and tell him that he is wrong, yet Karen did. The only goal that she didn’t accomplish in her time here as an Investigative Assistant was that she wanted to tackle somebody.
Most recently, Karen was integral in one of the most complicated and on-going investigations of this year. Vehicles were being broken into between Chula Vista and Rancho Santa Margarita and the stolen credit cards were being used mostly at Target stores and Albertson’s in the southern California area. Karen put many miles on her car traveling around and picking up video that showed the same female using the cards repeatedly. She also spent many hours on surveillance. The woman was finally identified and, at the end of last month, an arrest was made and multiple searches were done and thousands of dollars of property recovered thanks in part to her efforts.
It is with great honor, and bittersweet feelings, that we acknowledge her as San Clemente’s Civilian Employee of The Year.