By Seth Daniel
When Chelsea Police Det. Rosie Medina reflects on why it is she became a police officer, part of her says it’s because she wanted to defy her father, but another part says it’s because she loves the community and has found perfect harmony in her job where she can help the community and do something she loves.
Det. Medina has been on the force for nearly 25 years and last Thursday, the Massachusetts Association of Women in Law Enforcement honored her during their annual awards ceremony in Yarmouth. Medina was given the association’s Community Service Award for 2016.
Massachusetts State Police Colonel Richard McKeon served as Guest Speaker at the event and said women are important to law enforcement.
“What they bring to the table from investigations and all aspects of what we do, they’re just an integral part of law enforcement,” said McKeon.
Back in Chelsea, Medina sat down with the Record and said she loved building bridges between the community and the police department.
“I first came on under a new community policing grant and Officer Ortiz and Leon and I would go to Bosson Park and encourage the community to do cleanups and paint the park,” she said. “I think building that relationship with the community made our job so much easier – to the point where I was trusted by them. I still feel the need to be involved with the community 18 years later. You get to know so many people and so much about what’s going on.”
Medina said her work in the community, which includes investigating domestic violence cases and working with the Chelsea Collaborative’s Summer Youth Employment Program. In being involved in those pursuits, she said she has gotten important tips for crimes – simply due to the fact that people have come to respect and trust her.
Chief Brian Kyes said Medina has always understood the importance of the police and the community working as one.
“Long before she formally became a part of the Collaborative, she was engaged and involved both as a community member and a police partner,” he said. “Rose has always understood the importance of the community and the police working together to identify and solve recurring issues and therein completely comprehend the true meaning of community policing long before it was implemented as the Department’s organizational philosophy in the late 1990s.”
However, that path of policing was nearly thwarted, Medina said.
First of all, her father didn’t like the idea and, at first, of a woman being a police officer.
“My dad didn’t believe in certain jobs for women,” she said. “He liked to say only his sons would wear pants in his family and not his daughters. Looking back, who would have thought my dad and I would be sitting at a kitchen table talking about guns. If I think about it, I think I always wanted to challenge my dad and did things he wouldn’t have approved of.”
Meanwhile, other obstacles also got in her way. After seeing other women come onto the Chelsea Police and being encouraged to take the test, it took Medina three callbacks to actually get to the Department.
After being called the first time, she was sent packing because they told her she was a ½ pound over the weight limit, she said while rolling her eyes.
The second time, her now ex-husband had forbid her to take the job – saying he wasn’t going to be left at home alone at night while she rode around in a cruiser with some other guy.
However, the third time, just as she was preparing to go to law school, Medina got courage and went for it.
“That time, I told my husband, now my ex-husband, that I was taking the job, even if it meant he would divorce me,” she said. “To my surprise, he was incredibly supportive. Things changed and it made the transition a lot easier.”
Almost 25 years later, Medina said she has no regrets about choosing a career in law enforcement in Chelsea.
“My supervisors and the chief have been very supportive and that has allowed me to do my job,” she said. “If you don’t have the support of the administration, it’s difficult to do what you love to do. Very few people can say they get paid to do what they love. I can say that I do.”