Executive Director and Editor: Guy Ann Sheffield - Email

Ph: 662-393-1106 - Cell: 901-604-5204

OPD Retirees

About the Editor

 

100_1193

 

EDITORIAL COMMENT:  From Guy Ann Sheffield

It has been an extreme honor to serve as Executive Director and Editor of the OPD Retirees Association.   How did it all get started?

——–

In January of 1999, I was asked by Captain Jack R. Stacey, Jr., to take over the “retiree association” consisting of 124 members. He was due to retire in a few months because he’d been battling cancer.  He and I had served on several committees together and had a mutual admiration for each other.    We both, along with a few others on the department, had created the OPD Newsletter which came out only every quarter.   Captain Stacey and I were also good friends and  I would be able to continue his work. 

——– 

Captain Stacey loved his retirees, especially since his dad was one our most prominent OPD ones.  He also knew, or had worked with, so many of the other retirees.  He felt the warmth of history and wanted to keep all retirees in the OPD family. 

——

At that time, there wasn’t a lot of communications to share but he did what he could.  His method was to send them a copy of the departmental news every time we sent a publication out.  That wasn’t often enough and contained no news about them; plus I felt our newsletter was “committee-ed” to death… meaning ever sentence was chopped to death by a ten member committee who kept adding or deleting things until there wasn’t much news left.  So by the time a departmental publication came out, the news had gone through 3 to 4 meetings and was such old news, nobody wanted to read it.  There would be news but stuff that had come out in our Special Notices or sent around by word of mouth.  It was usually just about someone who was promoted, transferred, won an award or something several weeks ago and most of the retirees didn’t even know them then.  It was a nice organized publication but was just glanced at and thrown away. 

—— 

When he asked me to take over the organization, I thought it over then told Captain Stacey that I had a different idea.  I would only do it if I could handle it entirely my way.  I’ve always had a stubborn streak and wanted to have fresh news at all costs, wanting it to be something someone would read and even hang onto for re-reading or just saving.  It also had to be timely and consistent. 

——

In order for me to agree to run the association, I requested that the department approve and sanction a format of weekly newsletters combining both active and retiree news. (For years it was a weekly publication!)  I needed the department’s blessing in order to use their facilites to create and distribute.  At that time, computers, e-mails and internet were fairly new.  I didn’t even own a home computer, so had to work on it after hours before going home.  I would have to follow OPD Policy and Procedures and  always try to never embarrass or harm the department in any way.  Chief Jerry Demings trusted me and  quickly approved my leadership.  (He is now Sheriff of Orange County, Fl. and still supports me.)   So far, I haven’t gotten into too much trouble with following P&P’s!   Through the years, every other OPD Chief has also supported it and trusted my judgement.   Thanks to all of you!  

——

 Originally, many people said it couldn’t work because there just wasn’t enough news.  There was even opposition that a civilian couldn’t handle news with sworn officers or retirees.  Most of the older retirees didn’t know me, but I’ve evenutally won them all over with breakfasts, luncheons, reunions and especially the news.   I met hundreds of retirees and found them interesting  and wonderful!  At first, the active weren’t interested in the retired and vise versa but eventually the lines have blurred with retirees sharing many departmental events.  My idea was to make the transition for them both to share their lives in a more understanding way.  They COULD know each other while earning respect for each other.  Little did they know!  It has worked to the point that now, when an active is about to retire, the first thing they want to do is join the OPDRA.   They realized that OPD is a lifetime committment to the legacy.

——

In 1999, and for the first six years, a weekly “family oriented,” “retiree updates,” and “department tidbits” newsletter went out while I still did my regular 40 hour work week.  It has always been a purely voluntary project from the start.  Many nights after work, I sat at the computer pounding out the news, formatting and proofing it.   Of course, I had to be very careful with a lot of information and tried to think “P&P.”  What would “Jack” do?  Since I didn’t have a computer at home but promised a weekly newsletter, I pushed to get interesting news out.  It made for many late nights at work.  Besides the writing, I had to be the photographer, reporter, secretary, records keeper and editor.  Soon I needed a little help.  I began to gather people who could be key writers from different areas of the department and called them my “Ace Reporters.”  Thanks to all those who helped me throughout the years!  I had to prod them weekly to check with their people….did anyone taken a vacation? Get promoted? Get transferred? Pull a cute prank? Have a baby?  or whatever else might be interesting.    A newsletter went out on a regular basis…every week.  I requested updates from the retirees, their family info, new jobs, whatever little bits of news they could provided.  I even sent out questionnaires for them to send in stories from days of old!  It was paying off to be consistent and timely.  More and more people were beginning to look forward to the news.  If they saw a co-worker write in, then it sometimes inspired them to do it, too.  These tidbits let everyone into each other’s lives and put them together in a much more personal way.

——

From the original 124 members, our association has grown to more than four times that number in the last twelve years.  We have almost 600 retirees (along with many alumni) and over 1000 active.  We continue to have the widows and widowers stay with us even after their spouses have passed.   We even have many from City Hall who requests the news as well as other departments in Orlando.  Over 90% of our members now own computers when at first only 40 people owned one.  We have many former OPD personnel  and current members who are lawyers, doctors, judges, City Commissioners, Chiefs of Police (in many towns, cities and states, even countries), Federal and State position along with various other high ranking dignitaries.  Many of our retirees are still working at other law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.

——

After my own retirement in 2005, I had to pare the newsletter down to a monthly publication since I didn’t have the department’s facilties..  They did give me a computer, so that was great!  Our news still is now 50 pages of interesting news items sent from both the retirees and active OPD.   We have key people at OPD who assist me with information, forwarding hard copied to those who don’t own computers and of course, our “Ace Reporters.”  At times, the news is too big for one document to be sent in one e-mail and has to be sent in “Part 2” one.  

——

Some naysayers said it wouldn’t work when I moved to Mississippi, but it has, surprising everyone when it continued to grow even more.  E-mails have made the distance right next door.  My “Ace Reporters” still report & in fact, their news keeps growing.  The retirees still send in their updates and gather often to meet up with each other while taking active participation in Department events throughout the year.    We’ve gone from one reunion a year to two:  one held in Orlando and another in Blue Ridge, Georgia attended by several hundred people.   We continue to get new members all the time.  Current retiring OPD personnel quickly join so they can keep in the loop.  Other law enforcement agencies looks at us with envy because it’s rare to find a police department with the comaraderie and closeness that our retirees and active personnel share.  If one of us loses a family member or even one of us, we rally around them and send important arrangement information out to all members.  This makes the retirees feel that they are still important and won’t be forgotten.  It’s given them hope that their service mattered.

——

OPD has established itself as one of the finest and most recognized law enforcement agencies in the world.  Our highly trained and educated professionals have helped set the standards for many other departments around the nation. Anyone who served their careers with OPD leaves with a tremendous amount of pride in having been part of the best. The OPD Retiree’s Association is devoted to all the wonderful men and women, both civilian and sworn, who have served the Orlando Police Department.

——

Their motto has always been to serve with courage, pride and commitment. These retirees deserve the respect of those that follow in their footsteps. This association was created to keep them close to the OPD family and give them opportunities to contribute to its future.

—–

The retirees and active are encouraged to send updates on their current status, whether it’s relating to a job, a hobby, travels, family news or other.   We share news of death, sickness, military deployments or other concerns that affects our members.  If you have items of interest, please send them to:

——

Guy Ann Sheffield, Executive Director / Editor OPD Retiree’s Association
2140 Cedar Point Cove / Southaven, Ms. 38671

E-mail: opdra@earthlink.net

Home: (662) 393-1106     Cell: (901) 604-5204

OPDRA      “Together We Can Make It Work”

P. S.  Thanks for letting me be a part of your lives all these years. 

Guy Ann

 

 

The OPD Retiree’s Association is devoted to all the wonderful men and women, both civilian and sworn, who have served the Orlando Police Department. This association was created to keep them close to the OPD family and give them opportunities to contribute to its future.