Rhonda Peterson spent 31 years working for the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office before retiring in November 2021 and joining the Oklahoma City Community College police office under Chief Daniel Piazza.
Peterson started work at OCCC on Nov. 29. She said the opportunity has been the most exciting career change for her.
Peterson said she decided to be a police officer in fourth grade even though it was not common for women to become police officers at the time.
“My dad’s friends made fun of me and they said that girls couldn’t be police officers,” Peterson said. “My dad said to me that I could be anything in the world that I wanted to be, just work hard and never give up on your dreams.”
Many members of Peterson’s family work in law enforcement.
Her uncle Tom Schrader was a police officer, her aunt Mary Vinson retired from the Oklahoma City Police Department and her cousin Carolyn Glover is a dispatcher for the Norman Police Department.
Peterson said that retiring from the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office was the hardest decision that she’s ever made in her life.
Peterson said she loved her community and enjoyed helping wherever she was needed.
Peterson decided to come to OCCC after going to a police training class and meeting many of the OCCC police officers. She enjoyed visiting with the OCCC’s police officers.
She said she has also worked under Piazza before and enjoyed having him as a supervisor in the past.
“He found out that I was at the training class and came to visit me,” she said.
“I hadn’t seen him in many years. He said to me if you ever retire you should come work at OCCC. I went home and started researching about OCCC. I even talked to people that had attended college. All I heard from people was positive things.”
Peterson said she looks forward to going to work and that one thing that she enjoys about working with Piazza was that he believes in training.
“I believe that you should be trained no matter what age you are. I’ve been like a sponge soaking up so much information,” she said.
Peterson also recalled when she taught Drug Abuse Resistance Education and how much she enjoyed visiting with people in schools, which helped motivate her decision to join the OCCC police staff.
Since joining OCCC, Peterson said she’s been overjoyed to be part of so many lives.
“I can’t wait to meet every single person on the campus and know them by their name when I see them,” Peterson said.