Public safety a family affair for Garden Grove PD community service officer

By Elysse James

Community Service Officer Shelby Keuilian grew up around police and fire officials, so it’s no surprise that her chosen career follows the path of public service.

Officers would often visit Keuilian and her brother, Adam, at Archie’s Towing in Orange, where the siblings hung out after school.

“For as long as I can remember they were always at our Christmases,” Keuilian said. “They were always stopping by our house and our grandfather’s house. My brother and I kind of grew up… learning to respect the police departments. My brother and I were really raised right.”

Garden Grove Community Service Officer Shelby Keuilian plans to apply for the police academy soon, and hopes to one day be hired at Garden Grove Police Department. Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

The company, named after her grandfather, is owned by her father, Troy, and his two brothers. Keuilian’s mother, Katrina, manages the bookkeeping. Archie’s Towing contracts with the Orange Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, and other agencies.

“I definitely get my work ethic from my dad,” 22-year-old Keuilian said. Her brother, Adam, is a wildland firefighter for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “We do stress our parents out,” she joked.

Keuilian originally planned to be a nurse, but her father set up an Orange PD ride-along during her senior year of Orange Lutheran High School, and the rest is history.

Garden Grove Community Service Officer Shelby Keuilian works the front desk at the Garden Grove Police Department. Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

“Literally right out of the gate on that ride-along we got a Code 3 call, which is lights and sirens, and you’re going like 80 miles an hour in a residential and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the job for me’,” Keuilian said. “That’s it. There was nothing else to it. I wanted to take in every second of every minute. I stayed the whole shift. It was a blast.”

So, after graduation, Keuilian applied to become a police cadet and was hired at Garden Grove Police Department. She was inspired to apply at Garden Grove PD during a ride-along with Officer Sindy Orozco, and wanted to prove herself at an agency that didn’t already know her family.

“I remember thinking this is a really good place to work,” Keuilian said. “The thing that caught my eye was how active the city is in calls for service and the diversity of the people that live here. I love that.”

Garden Grove Community Service Officer Shelby Keuilian started as a cadet assigned to the detective unit. Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

She worked first in the detective’s bureau for Lt. Carl Whitney, entering pawn slip information into the computer, helping with surveillance, and learning as much as she could. Whitney said he knew immediately that Keuilian would be a great employee.

“The detectives she worked with immediately recognized her abilities and work ethic, and took her under their wing,” Whitney stated. “She was invited on surveillances, search warrants and even helped in some of our big investigations.”

After 9 months as a cadet, she transitioned in November 2016 into her current role as a community service officer.

“This assignment down here at the front desk has been a daily challenge,” Keuilian said. “This really changes you. This makes you mature a lot faster.”

Garden Grove Community Service Officer Shelby Keuilian spent most of her childhood around law enforcement, which instilled in her a respect for the profession. Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

The most difficult part, she said, is the wide variety of people and problems she encounters. A person walking into the lobby could be a victim, a suspect, someone reporting a crime, or someone who had committed a crime.

“You have to be unbelievably professional in any situation,” she said. “I’ve heard the worst of the worst and you still have to keep a straight face. And what’s even harder is you have to let it go at the end of the day.”

Keuilian is preparing to apply to the police academy, but her ultimate goal is to become a background investigator, and to also work on the Career Criminal Apprehension Team (CCAT). Both routes are inspired by her work as a cadet. In fact, she’s already inspired a few friends to pursue law enforcement careers.

Garden Grove Community Service Officer Shelby Keuilian finds working at the front desk challenging and a great learning opportunity. Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

“I really, really want to be a background investigator,” she said. “I like learning about people. I love recruiting. I love getting people excited about their job, getting people excited about their future, and I see that in the recruiters and the background investigators. That’s what I want to do, 100 percent.”

Her curiosity, interest in police work, willingness to work hard, and ability to learn quickly make her an excellent candidate, according to Whitney.

“Shelby is a great employee and will make a great police officer in the near future,” Whitney stated.

Keuilian hopes to be hired at the Garden Grove PD once she graduates from the academy.

“The chief always talks about how we’re a family and we can rely on each other,” Keuilian said. “I see that every day. I know that if I fall, someone will be there to catch me here. You can feel it when you walk into any unit, and that goes for every unit here.”

“This job is not for everybody,” she said. “I take pride in my partners, I take pride in my supervisors…it’s just awesome. There’s nothing better, there really isn’t.”

Garden Grove Community Service Officer Shelby Keuilian is an excellent candidate for police work, according to her former supervisor, Lt. Carl Whitney. Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC