Merced added five officers during a ceremony Friday, including the wife of a sergeant and an officer laid off from the department five years ago.
Alicia Gorman, 34, of Le Grand took her oath as husband Detective Sgt. Curt Gorman, 52, watched from the back of the room. She comes to Merced after about eight years with Merced County Probation, so having a spouse who carries a gun for a living is nothing new, they said.
“We both are aware of what’s going on with the world,” he said, adding he’s been an officer in Merced for 23 years.
The dangers of being an officer were fresh in the minds of everyone in the room thanks to recent incidents such as the July 7 killing of five Dallas police officers. Capt. Bimley West opened the ceremony with a prayer for fallen officers.
Alicia Gorman said there’s a level of stress that comes with being married to someone who often is placed in danger, but it only becomes overwhelming if one doesn’t learn to avoid thinking about it. “You just get used to it,” she said.
88Number of sworn officers in Merced
Now a patrol officer, she worked from 2004 to 2008 for the Merced Police Department as a liaison with the Spanish-speaking community. That’s when the Gormans first met.
Police Chief Norm Andrade said it’s not unusual to have more than one married couple in the department at any given time, but noted an officer cannot be a supervisor over a spouse.
A packed house in the Merced City Hall chambers looked on as the officers pledged their service to the city, and another officer was named the city’s newest captain.
Also returning to Merced is Lance O’Brien. Originally from Atascadero, the 29-year-old worked as a Merced officer from 2008 to 2011, when he was laid off while the city dealt with budget cuts.
He comes back to Merced from the Paso Robles Police Department, where he was a K-9 handler for more than four years, he said. “It just feels good to be back with this agency,” he said.
It just feels good to be back with this agency.
Lance O’Brien, 29, who was laid off in 2008 but is back with Merced Police Department
Merced native Caleb Salas, 28, a 2007 Golden Valley High School graduate, took his oath as well. Javier Jaurique, 28, of Del Rey, and Zachary Stewart, 21, of Brentwood rounded out the new officers.
Officers in Merced make $59,028 to $71,748 depending on their experience and years of service, according to the city’s salary schedule.
Lt. Chris Goodwin was promoted to captain during the ceremony. The 46-year-old Bay Area native has worked in Merced for 20 years, he said. He’ll make $120,298 a year, according to the city’s personnel department.
Andrade said the city has 88 officer slots filled, including three who are in the academy, of the 94 budgeted this year. The five new officers will begin patrolling city streets but still are in training for another 14 weeks.
Merced’s largest police force was in 2007, when it had 111 officers.
Andrade commended the officers for their choice to join Merced’s police force. “They’ve worked hard and they’ve come a long way for their dream,” he said.