Clermont celebrates female first responders during Women’s History Month
Clermont celebrates female first responders during Women’s History Month
CLERMONT (March 29, 2022) – March has been designated as Women’s History Month to acknowledge and commemorate the vital role women have played in American History and the City of Clermont is celebrating its female first responders.
Please meet the women of the Clermont Fire Department and the Clermont Police Department who respond and support residents and visitors at often their most vulnerable time.
Clermont Fire Department
Kathy Johnston joined the Clermont Fire Department in 2014 as Assistant Chief of Administration where she has overseen the budget or departmental logistics of fire, EMS, and training divisions. Her focus to promote professional development continued as she became a credentialed Chief Fire Officer (CFO) through the Center for Public Safety Excellence and facilitated Clermont’s Fire Department’s accreditation achievement in 2018 and ISO public classification rating of 1 in 2020. Assistant Chief Johnston brought with her many years of dedication to the fire service. She first responded to her call as a volunteer firefighter in 1978 and became an Orange County Fire Rescue firefighter in 1981. She soon became one of the first women to work for the City of Orlando Fire Department where she served for 25 years. Assistant Chief Johnston helped expand the fire service to include areas such as developing mandatory in-service trailing via the internet, drafting the first comprehensive strategic plan, and spearheading the efforts for the Florida Urban Search and Rescue program that lead to her establishing the Search and Rescue of Central Florida in 1998. She also extended her specialties to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) where she worked for more than four years, including helping Florida recover from four hurricanes that struck in 2004. She retired in 2007 at the rank of Deputy Chief.
Assistant Chief Jennifer Pierce began her fire service career at Lake Mary Fire Department in 2004 for more than seven years. After serving in Texas for a year as the Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of La Marque, she returned to central Florida and was hired in 2014 as the Clermont Fire Department Plans Examiner. With more than 18 years of experience, Assistant Chief Pierce currently oversees the Fire Prevention Divisions' daily operations which include the review of plans for fire protection and life safety, fire inspections, fire investigations, and the coordination of community relations and public fire and life safety education. In addition, Assistant Chief Pierce is actively involved in numerous professional organizations including, the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association where she is currently serving as the First Vice President.
Fire Engineer Nicole Chavers joined the Clermont Fire Department family in 2019, bringing with her more than eight years of fire service experience. She is also a paramedic and an Emergency Medical Services Field Training Officer and was the department’s first female to be promoted to Engineer.
Fire and Life Safety Educator Sarah Jones joined the Clermont Fire Department as a fire inspector in 2017 and quickly made her way to Fire and Life Safety Educator in two short years. Educator Jones is focused on Community Risk Reduction both in Clermont and across the nation by assisting the State Fire College with input on important and trending issues while analyzing data for program development. In addition to building the Clermont education program, Educator Jones is passionate about studying ways to reduce serious falls by senior adults.
Fire Plans Examiner Christina Grant joined the Clermont Fire Department this year and brings with her more than five years of fire service experience as a dispatcher, a firefighter/EMT, and a fire inspector.
These female first fire responders are supported every day by dedicated, professional, and efficient team members Pam McDuffee and Beth Carter who ensure all of the expected and unexpected administrative challenges are handled promptly and consistently.
(pictured left to right, top to bottom, Johnston, Pierce, Chavers, Jones, Grant, Carter, McDuffee)
Clermont Police Department
Sgt. Erin Razo has been with the Clermont Police Department for 13 years. She always knew that she wanted to be part of something bigger than herself. She started as a patrol officer, moved into recruiting and training, and became the first female to be promoted to Sergeant under Chief Charles Broadway. She currently serves as a Detective Sergeant in the Criminal Investigations Division and is the lead public information officer for the department.
Detective Alexa Dougherty joined the Clermont Police Department in 2018 as the city’s first sponsored cadet in the police academy. Upon graduation, she joined the Patrol Division and then moved into Criminal Investigations where she was promoted to Detective. Detective Dougherty is proudly following in her father’s footsteps and dedication as a career law enforcement officer. She works hard each day to serve “the citizens in the best city in Florida!”
Detective Susannah Wray is serious about protecting children and bringing to justice those who harm them. That passion led her in to law enforcement and she has been with the Clermont Police Department for four years.
Officer Kelly Brown began her work in law enforcement as a Clermont Police Department patrol officer in 2019. When a position opened in the Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving program, Officer Brown and her colleagues believed her knack for solving problems made her a good fit. She joined the program in 2021.
Patrol Cpl. Brittany Wegner has worked with the Clermont Police Department for nearly six years to answer her call to help people who may not have the opportunity to help themselves. She is a Patrol Corporal and also serves as a Field Training Officer.
Patrol Officer Brittany Lopez became a Clermont police officer three years ago when she realized she wanted to be able to look back on her life and know she had educated, influenced, and created opportunities for many people. Officer Lopez is in the Patrol Division and is working to advance into Criminal Investigations as a detective to challenge herself to uncover the truth.
Patrol Officer Nicole Camacho joined the Clermont Police Department two years ago after receiving a bachelor’s degree and determining she wanted a career that helped solve problems for others and kept her active.
Patrol Officer Katie Berridge joined the Clermont Police Department nearly two years ago as a patrol officer to continue her dedication to helping others, especially during their worst times.
Patrol Sgt. Debbie Reasoner, a 16-year veteran of the department, always wanted to be a police officer so she could help her community. She was responsible for bringing Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to Lake County and she established the “Walk like MADD” 5K race to raise money and awareness for victims of drunk drivers.
Also assigned to the Patrol Division is Officer Kayla Morales (two years), whose desire to change society’s perception of law enforcement drove her into this career that she finds most rewarding. She plans to continue to grow and advance up the ranks.
Patrol Officer Lauren Wellons was a senior in high school when she rode along with a detective as part of a career-day assignment. During that day, she witnesses that detective interview and then arrest and charge a man with child molestation. That day she decided she wanted to become a police officer. She has been with the Clermont Police Department for nearly 11 years and often wonders if that detective has any idea of the impact he made on her!
Patrol Officer Nicole Meyer (three years) began with the Clermont Police Department three years ago to satisfy a craving for an ever-changing, exciting career that allowed her to impact others in good and bad situations.
After working with the state and Orange County on child protection teams, Traffic Sgt. Melissa France used that desire to help children and became a law enforcement officer with the goal of advancing to the position of a detective dedicated to investigating child sex crimes. She has been with the Clermont Police Department for 12 years.
Officer Nandie Harricharan joined the Clermont Police Department six years ago as a patrol officer. She is currently assigned to the Training Division, as well as helping recruit new officers.
Officer Kendra Garrao has been with the Clermont Police Department for nearly four years where she started as a patrol officer. She is currently working to help recruit new officers for the department.
These first-responding, female police officers are supported every day by a dedicated civilian staff of seven women with a combined tenure of nearly 67 years in administration, crime scene investigations, records management, and criminal analysis. Please meet Records Supervisor Laura Turk (28 years); Quartermaster Debbie Arroyo (17 years); Administrative Assistant Diane Carter (seven years); Accreditation Manager Desiree Cicco (seven years); Records Assistant Stephanie Kleinfeldt, (six years); Crime Scene Investigator Rachel Echard (one year) and Criminal Intelligence Analyst Cristina Pratt (nearly one year).
Welans, Berridge, Reasoner, Meyer
Wray, Brown, Garrao, Dougherty, Razo
Wegner, Lopez, Comacho, Morales
Arroyo, Carter, Echard
Kleinfeldt, Pratt, Turk