Gifford mixed grit with compassion


Posted: Friday, August 01, 2003

After a law enforcement career that has spanned 27 years, Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Gifford today begins new adventures.

Gifford, who has been the chief in Soldotna for six years, is retiring effective today. The community will honor her during a luncheon at the Soldotna Sports Center at noon.

The chief's career has been marked by an impressive string of firsts. She served the Anchorage Police Department for 20 years, becoming its first woman sergeant, first woman lieutenant and first woman captain. She completed her Anchorage career as captain in charge of detectives in 1997. She is the founding president of Women Police of Alaska

Earlier this year, Gifford received a "Breaking the Glass Ceiling" award from the National Center for Women and Policing. The award recognized Gifford as "one of the few women in the United States who has attained a high-ranking position in a law enforcement agency."

What Soldotna and the rest of the Kenai Peninsula likely will remember Gifford for, however, is her compassionate service to the community. She earned a reputation for someone who would listen no matter what the problem. Through her involvement with the Center for Mediation and Community Dialogue, she also has tried to show that there often are other, better ways to solve problems than calling the police. She has given unselfishly of her time to the community participating in school activities, community events and numerous committees.

Throughout her career, Gifford has modeled the idea that police work is far more than arresting the bad guys or solving the crime. It's being part of the community not just during the tragedies and accident scenes and crimes all the time.

But don't be fooled. Gifford is a tough cop, who believes in doing things by the book. She knows the importance of following process and proper procedure. She also knows a little kindness goes a long way.

The good news about Gifford's retirement is that she's not leaving the community. All of those characteristics that Soldotna quickly came to love and respect about her will be still be at work on the peninsula.

We wish her all the best in her life after law enforcement. We're glad this is just "good luck" and not "goodbye."

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