Garden Grove PD welcomes three new officers to its family

By Lou Ponsi

Garden Grove’s three new police officers each bring their individual skill sets and life experiences to the job:

Aaron Shipley, 29, is a U.S. Marine reservist with a strong desire to fight crime.

Victoria Gill, 23, is a former emergency medical technician who embraces the family-focused ideology of the department.

Victoria Gill has her new Garden Grove PD badge pinned on her by her mother, Tracey, during a swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 29.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Rene Barraza, 39, is a skilled, seasoned crime fighter who wants to deepen his experience.

With relatives, friends and law enforcement personnel looking on, Shipley, Gill and Barraza were sworn in Jan. 29 by GGPD Chief Todd Elgin.

The chief welcomed the new hires and their families to his “family.”

Garden Grove’s newest PD officer, Victoria Gill, smiles with her mother, Tracey, after receiving her pin. Chief Todd Elgin is left.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“We are family,” Elgin told the gathering at the Garden Grove Community Center. “That is what sets us apart from every other agency here in Orange County.”

The department’s vibe, along with the city itself, was a huge plus for Gill in pursuing a career change.

“This department is really a strong family and I’m a big family person,” Gill said.

Aaron Shipley has his new Garden Grove PD badge pinned on him by his mother, Tracy, during the swearing-in ceremony.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The Phoenix native had been an EMT in Santa Ana and then in Garden Grove when she opted to pursue law enforcement.

“I liked the diversity of the city,” Gill said. “All the culture and diversity really drew me in compared to the other cities in Orange County.”

Shipley became a Marine reservist in 2008 after graduating from Trabuco Hills High School. He re-enlisted in 2017.

Rene Barraza, a law enforcement officer with 10 years of experience, has his new badge pinned on him as one of Garden Grove’s newest officers by his wife, Nancy, as his children watch.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Shipley had been working as a mechanic, but the job didn’t satisfy his desire to serve the community.

“I wanted to continue my service to the community and that is why I joined law enforcement,” Shipley said. “To fulfill my duty to America and to Garden Grove, I wanted to be part of a department that works really hard and goes after the bad guys. I’m honored that they selected me.”

Law enforcement officers gather with Chief Todd Elgin and Garden Grove’s newest officers, Victoria Gill, Aaron Shipley and Rene Barraza after the three were sworn in at the Garden Grove Community Center on Monday, Jan. 29.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Barraza had been a Tustin police officer since 2007 before making the lateral move to GGPD.

During his tenure at the TPD, Barraza was a K9 handler and a member of the SWAT team.

Prior to becoming a police officer, Barraza served in the Marines from 1997 to 2005 and is a veteran of two combat tours in Iraq.

Like Shipley and Gill, Barraza likes the vibe within the GGPD.

Rene Barraza gets a hug from his father, Rene Barraza, one of Garden Grove’s newest officers, during the swearing-in ceremony.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“I liked the atmosphere here … the philosophy of what they have,” Barraza said. “I love my experience in Tustin and hope to make it just the same here in Garden Grove. I just like helping people. It gives me a good feeling. It helps me feel better about myself. I especially like it when people feel better about themselves.”

One of Garden Grove’s newest officers, Victoria Gill, with relatives and Police Chief Todd Elgin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Rene Barraza with his wife, Nancy, and children and Chief Todd Elgin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

One of Garden Grove’s newest officers, Aaron Shipley, with his relatives and Police Chief Todd Elgin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove PD graduates Victoria Gill (center) and Aaron Shipley (right of Gill) line up with their classmates during graduation ceremonies at the Orange County Regional Training Academy on Thursday, Jan. 25.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Victoria Gill salutes Garden Grove PD Capt. Thomas DaRŽe before receiving her new GGPD badge during graduation ceremonies at the Orange County Regional Training Academy on Thursday, Jan. 25.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Victoria Gill has her new Garden Grove PD badge pinned on her by her mother, Tracey, at the Jan. 25 graduation ceremony.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Aaron Shipley salutes GGPD Capt. Tom DaRŽe before receiving his new GGPD badge.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Aaron Shipley has his new Garden Grove PD badge pinned on him by his grandmother, Crystal, as his relatives look on.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Aaron Shipley gets a hug from his grandmother, Crystal. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC