[dropcap]A[/dropcap] month after delivering her second baby, then housewife Vicky Merino took the physical agility test as part of the requirements to become a cop for the City of Coral Gables. The year was 1997.
Meino said that since she was a teenager her dream was to become a police officer.
“It’s something I wanted to do since I was young,” said Merino, now mother of four children ages 20, 18, 11 and 3. After graduating from the police academy program, she was sworn in as an officer on Oct. 31, 1997.
This May, Sgt. Merino will celebrate 18 years working for the Coral Gables Police Department (CGPD). Before she gets to celebrate almost two decades of law enforcement service, the fearless petite officer will have a chance to brag about something more symbolic.
Earlier in the year, Sgt. Merino was selected for the 2014 Officer of the Year Award. The selection was made by the CGPD’s Awards Selection Committee, a group of her peers who recommended her as the “best in blue” within the department.
“I’m very humbled to be recognized. It is an honor for me to come to work every day to patrol our community and keep it safe,” said Merino, who lives with her family in Miami Springs.
By her own admission, she strives to protect the most vulnerable and the weak in society, such as children and the elderly.
In 2014, Merino was nominated for several awards by her colleagues. In February, she received a Life Saving Award for helping save a choking victim. In May, she was Officer of the Month for being instrumental in solving a bank robbery case within 24 hours. In November, she again was picked as Officer of the Month for her part in solving two separate cases which led to the arrests of six individuals accused of counterfeiting goods and residential burglaries.
For her service, Sgt. Merino was recognized recently at a city commission meeting by city manager Cathy Swanson- Rivenbark and Interim Chief of Police Ed Hudak Jr.
“Sgt. Merino is a remarkable officer who combines courage, skill, and duty. She is also quite humble, always paying tribute to her fellow officers,” Swanson-Rivenbark said.
“Sgt. Merino continues to lead by example every day,” added Chief Hudak. “She’s an outstanding shift commander, a great training mentor to new officers, and has positively led the Burglary Task Force to catch those who prey upon our citizens.”
When asked what makes a great police officer, Sgt. Merino doesn’t hesitate in her response. “It takes a special person. Not everyone is cut out to do this job,” she said. “A great police officer is someone with integrity, honor, care for others, and enthusiasm.”