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Retiring Marana police officer recalls 27 years serving community

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 9:42 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A local police officer is turning in her gun and hanging up her badge. Gerrie Tinsley is retiring from the Marana Police Department, where’s she’s proudly served and protected since 1994.

KOLD News 13′s Dan Marries had the privilege of riding along with her on her last day of patrol in the town she loves so much.

Whether it’s community policing in local stores or waking through MPD headquarters, nearly everyone Officer Gerrie Tinsley passes sports a smile and says hello, as if they’re seeing their best friend.

For one fellow officer, a hug and shared memories from when he was a kid in school.

“Crazy, crazy, it’s the end of an era,” he said as Tinsley explained he was one of her DARE students years ago during elementary school.

Tinsley spent 32 years as a sworn police officer, the last 27 have been with the Marana Police Department. 13 of those, Tinsley spent as a school resource officer working D.A.R.E., the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid drugs, gangs, and violence.

She touched the lives of tens of thousands of students during that time with trust and compassion. She can’t hardly go anywhere without running into her former DARE graduates.

“One time I even ran into a family at Disneyland,” she said.

While on foot patrol at a local, busy with holiday shoppers, a stranger walks up to Officers Tinsley and Rachel Ward, with a gift in hand for each of them, a home-made Back The Blue keychain.

“I made it myself and every time I see you guys I give them to you. Thank you for your service,” the stranger said.

As a wife and mother of three, Tinsley has found the perfect balance between family and career and is proud that her kids went to school within the Marana Unified School District.

She got to know many of the teachers and staff throughout the district during those years as a school resource officer and appreciates their dedication to education.

Tinsley looks back on a long career with fondness and gratitude.

“I think what I’m going to miss the most is seeing people every day, talking to coworkers, talking to the people out in the community. That’s what I’m going to miss most,” she said.

The most rewarding part of her career, she said, was getting to know the community.

“I’ve met so many good people out there,” she said.

Over her three decades as a police officer, Tinsley has seen the profession change along with how some in society view law enforcement. She feels the connection Marana PD has with its citizens is a shining example of how it should be and she’s proud of the work she’s accomplished.

“This department is a good department, good people, we’re here to serve you and I just want to say thank you for allowing me to serve the citizens of Marana,” she said.

As for what’s next in retirement, besides spending more time with her family, Tinsley’s not sure yet.

“We’ll see but I am going to take some time off; a nice break,” she said.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.