Making history: First female officer joins North Ridgeville Police force


NORTH RIDGEVILLE – Kelsey Garrabrant just made history for the North Ridgeville record books.  In the presence of city officials, friends, family and citizens, she was sworn in last week by Mayor Dave Gillock as the first female police officer in the city of nearly 33,000.

Garrabrant was described by Chief Mike Freeman as “the shining star of the applicants” for the position.  He went to on say she was selected based on her merits, regardless of her gender.  The new officer has already been serving the public as a 911 dispatcher at Westcom Fire Dispatch in Westlake, which serves Bay Village, Fairview Park, North Ridgeville, Rocky River and Westlake.

Mayor Gillock is proud to have Garrabrant representing North Ridgeville with her history making appointment. Garrabrant is a graduate of Northridge High School in Johnstown, Ohio.  She also studied at Ashland University.

Police officials denied requests to interview Garrabrant regarding the appointment.

“We are proud of the diversity this gives us,” Gillock said.  “When considering applicants, Kelsey rose to the top on her own merits.  We weren’t specifically looking for a female for the role but she exceeded the expectations in all respects.  She has a tremendous history of leadership and involvement in our community.  She has been involved with other emergency services and scored very high on her applicant exam.  We are so glad to have her on the force.  North Ridgeville is growing and diversifying, and that is a good thing.”

Although her appointment was not based on the fact Garrabrant was female, it seems to be a very exciting and inspirational milestone for residents.  Several residents shared that having a female officer sends a positive message.

“My daughter has talked about being a police officer, so this is awesome,” Corinne Gustafson said. “She can see a local role model.”

When Gina Natale Towne talked to her 5-year-old daughter Audrey about the new officer, she was excited when offering a response.

“Girls are just as tough as boys!” Audrey Towne added. “I like that and wish there were more girls in our police department.”

As things change and grow in North Ridgeville, many are impressed with the evolution. Resident Lisa Berner is especially happy about the progress of the local police force.  She was pleasantly surprised to hear a female officer would be serving the city.

“I never thought I would see the day,” Berner said.  “This is such a great addition to our already stellar police force.”

J.D. Gontkovsky, a current co-worker of Garrabrant at the Westcom dispatch center, says he is going to miss working with her but is tremendously proud of her accomplishments.

“She is one of the most driven people I know,” Gontkovsky said. “I’m very proud of this young lady. I’m so happy she is serving and protecting my family and me.”

Garrabrant won’t hit the road patrolling as Unit 86 until 2018.  She must complete her training at the Police Academy at Lorain County Community College. This includes approximately 600 hours of classes to prepare her for the new role.

Resident Kelsey Sheppard says the addition of Garrabrant to the police force has given her an optimistic perspective. “It’s a beautiful example of how the world is changing and evolving,” Sheppard said. “There is a lot of tragedy in this world, but this allows us to focus on the good changes.”




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