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Q & A: Retiring Westminster police staff member looks back on 30-year career in law enforcement

Cheryl Pickett, a Carroll County Native, has decided to retire from her duties as communications specialist with the Westminster Police after 30 years of service.
Cheryl Pickett, a Carroll County Native, has decided to retire from her duties as communications specialist with the Westminster Police after 30 years of service. (Courtesy Photo)

After 30 years of service, a member of the Westminster Police Department staff has decided to retire from her duties as communications specialist.

Cheryl Pickett, a Carroll County native, has been with the Westminster Police since December 1989, serving as a meter monitor. In March of 1994 she assumed the position of telecommunications clerk, where she remained until July of 1998. She then left Westminster Police Department and took a position as a 911 operator with Howard County 911. In July 1999, she returned to Westminster starting as a telecommunications clerk. Two years later she was promoted to communications specialist and has worked in that position ever since.

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Q: What made you interested in working in law enforcement?

A: At the time, I was in need of a full time job. The position of meter monitor was posted. I was a Westminster City resident and thought it would be interesting to work for the police department, especially since it was “my local police.” Luckily I was given the opportunity to accept the job. The longer I worked in that position, the more I enjoyed working in the law enforcement environment. At the time of hire, I never expected I would turn the position into a 30-year career path.

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Q: What was your favorite thing about your job?

A: I would have to say that the best part of my career are the friendships and relationships I have made through the years. But I must also add that this is a very interesting career in general. You never know what your shift will bring. No two shifts are alike. I do enjoy the interaction with coworkers, other agencies, and the general public. In addition, there is great reward when you know that you (and all of your co-workers) are able to help someone in need, regardless of how significant those needs are.

Q: Can you share a personal anecdote about one of your most memorable experiences on the job?

A: While I don’t consider this as an amusing story, one of my most memorable experiences was from working a midnight shift many years ago. I was the only experienced dispatcher working and was training a brand-new hire who was on the job for just a day or two. A call came in to assist the Maryland State Police with a subject who was fleeing from them in a vehicle and heading towards city limits from Manchester. As events unfolded rather quickly, the subject was forced to stop in a field on Route 27. As the event continued, gunshots were exchanged after the suspect fired at police. When I called out to my units who were on scene to make certain they were not injured, I could not raise one unit in particular. After multiple attempts, a response was finally received from him and he was OK. To think one of your own could be hurt is a very frightening feeling as my heart sank to the floor. Long story, short, all of my officers made it through this event without injury. I feel that was a result of all department members from both agencies having good training and working together as a team.

Q: What were some accolades you received in your 30 years of service?

A: I have received the “Civilian of the Year” award in 2001 and 2006. I also received “The Chief’s Commendation” in 2010

Q: What is one lesson you learned over your 30 years with the Westminster Police?

A: Try not to take the stress of the job home to your family.

Q: What will you miss most about working with Westminster Police?

A: I will miss working directly with the friends and colleagues that I have come to know from the past 30 years. This is to include the staff from the entire City of Westminster as well as members from the Courts, State’s Attorney’s Office, Maryland State Police, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, 911 center, and many others

Q: What prompted your decision to retire?

A: Several reasons played into this decision. Thirty years is a long time to work in this profession and I just felt it was time for a change. A stress reliever if you will. Plus, there is so much change in the law enforcement world today. Things just aren’t as they used to be.

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Q: How do you plan to kick off your retirement?

A: I have no special plans at this time. The police department has recognized me through an open house which was held here at our department [Feb. 27]. I will just take some time off to be with my family and relax before moving on to the next chapter in my life, whatever that may be.

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