SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) She followed her father’s footsteps into police work. And two decades later – she’s still serving and protecting. In this weeks Behind the Badge report we meet Unified Police Sergeant Melody Gray.
“I was born into it is probably the best way to describe it. I grew up playing cops and robbers.” With a police officer for a father – Melody Gray seemed destined to work in law enforcement. And that is exactly what happened. “I got hired on by Salt Lake City and I fell in love with this job.”
She says police use the term ‘serve and protect’ because for most officers – that’s exactly how they describe their work. “I really find it very fulfilling – the lives I get to touch. The difference I get to make in the lives.” That includes more than twenty years working with the girl scouts. In 1995 I started as a girl scout leader and I still have a troop today.”
During her career she has been a K9 officer. She has worked narcotics, domestic violence cases and she has seen her share of tense situations. “There have been those few moments where I thought I was going to have to shoot someone.” Fortunately she’s never had to do that, but – “I got kicked in the face.” Sgt. Gray says one of her most difficult arrests involved a woman on drugs. “There was a physical altercation between myself, this young lady and another officer. In order to get control of her. In order to get handcuffs on her and get her in custody. It was (pause) quite an experience. She was kicking and flaying and just really trying to fight.”
Sgt. Gray says she ran into that woman a few weeks later and while the woman didn’t remember anything about the tussle – she apologized.
After 18 years with Salt Lake City and ‘moving up’ to the rank of Lieutenant – she ‘moved over’ to Unified Police. “I love working for Unified. The culture here is very supportive of the employees.” She says the uniform is different, but serving is the same. “To be able to touch people’s life on a daily basis was incredible to me.”
She has served in several positions at UPD – and is now the department’s spokesperson or public information officer. “It’s a great opportunity.” Sgt Gray has had a career of caring. And she tells me – right now – no plans to give that up. “I’m eligible to retire, I could retire I choose to. But I love this job. And as long as I love it – I’m going to stay here.” >
Sgt Gray’s first law enforcement job was actually with the FBI. She was a clerk there – and thought she would become an federal agent. But local police work was so enjoyable, she never pursued an FBI career.
To see our past Behind the Badge stories – or to nominate an officer, soldier or firefighter for a future story go to http://www.good4utah.com/badge