3 new GPD officers sworn in

Chief Tony Jones swears in Officer Megan Griffis, 27, Officer Craig Ferrell, 26, and Officer Daniel Rengering, 22, at the Thomas Center on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of GPD.)

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 7:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 7:15 p.m.

Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones swore in three new officers on Wednesday.

Officer Megan Griffis, 27, Officer Craig Ferrell, 26, and Officer Daniel Rengering, 22, were sworn in at the Thomas Center.

According to GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias, GPD hired 11 new police officers this year, and all three of the newest expressed gratitude for the chance to fulfill their aspirations.

"Any day we administer the oath of office to even one officer is great," Tobias said. "To welcome three is fantastic."

Officer Megan Griffis grew up in Ocala and went to Vanguard High School. She graduated from the police academy at the College of Central Florida. She's a single mother of two daughters: Zoe, 6, and Lilly, 5.

Griffis got married at 18, worked as a civil clerk in Marion County and then worked at the jail. She got tired of working behind a desk, she said, so she went to school at night while working full days — and caring for her daughters — to become a police officer. She credits her father, a captain in the Marion County Sheriff's Office, as an inspiration in her career choice.

"He competed in the police olympics and he was on the SWAT team," she said. "He even ran the drug unit. I watched him, and he inspired me to want to serve the community."

Griffis said she didn't want to join the MCSO because she wanted to make a name for herself and not have to stand in her father's shadow. She said GPD was high on the list of agencies she wanted to work for.

She has aspirations of being GPD's first female SWAT officer, and she said she also chose law enforcement because she wants to make a difference not only in Gainesville but in her family as well.

"I became a police officer because I wanted to make a difference in the community and for my daughters," she said. "I can't change the world, but I can make a difference at home."

Officer Daniel Rengering grew up in Lake Butler and went to Union County High School. He graduated from the police academy at Florida Gateway College. He married at 20 and has two daughters: Alexis, 1, and Alaynna, 4 months. He said his dad, a police officer with the New Port Richey police department, inspired him to pursue a career in law enforcement.

"I was definitely influenced by my dad a little bit, but it's just something I've always wanted to do," he said. "Since I was a kid, it's always what I wanted to do."

Rengering said that when he was sworn in, his father told him he was proud and gave him some good advice.

"He just told me to ‘always be safe, keep your head on a swivel and keep your eye on people.' "

The new officer said he feels honored and blessed to serve the citizens of Gainesville.

Officer Craig Ferrell is the only person in his family who has chosen a career in law enforcement. He attended Gainesville High School and Santa Fe College. Previously, he was a police service technician, a position he's held since 2009.

"It feels good. It's been four years coming," he said. "PST was great training for the job."

Rengering said his mother told him she was worried but she knew she wasn't going to be able to change his mind, so she wouldn't fight him about his career choice.

He said he wants to try everything you can in the department and find his niche. He credits his trainers with his confidence and eagerness to learn. He also looks up to the veterans of the force, he said.

"One of the things I found unique were the veterans who've done everything," he said. "I want to do everything."

Chief Jones said he was excited to accept the new officers to the fold.

"I'm excited to see three new law enforcement careers begin," Jones said. "I look forward to watching them grow as police officers to protect and serve the citizens of Gainesville."

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