Karina Perla works on the civilian side of the Irving Police Department (Irving PD) as a Records Clerk. Her main responsibilities are answering and directing calls and assisting citizens. She is the first face citizens see when they need service and often interacts with people who have mental illnesses. Karina is also currently a nursing student, who balances 12-hour shifts with the IPD, her course load, and working at a local hospital. She has been in school for the past two and a half years. Needless to say, Karina is impressive!
She was born and raised in Irving, Texas, and graduated in 2013 from Irving High. She chose to stay in the area for work because it was central to her school’s location. While attending Irving High, Karina had positive interactions with the Student Resource Officers (SROs) and now, she is grateful for the opportunity to see them again and interact in a professional space because of her job. “My elementary, middle, and high school SROs are still here. School-wise, I was office aid. You see them on a different level and realize they are there to help the kids succeed. They’re cheering you on on the sidelines regardless of what you choose to do,” she said. Once she finishes nursing school, Karina wants to be an elementary school nurse. “I would have a relationship with law enforcement but not specifically law enforcement,” she said.
Karina found out about this position through her mother. “My mother works for Irving PD. She’s really good friends with the supervisor. Overall being in nursing school and dealing with people, I always make sure that my interaction with people is a positive one, no matter how I feel. Whatever is going on with me I always put it to the side. I went through the mental health clinical and it really opened my eyes. It changed my whole thought process on how I am with people,” Karina said.
Being a woman of Hispanic heritage has been, “beneficial to PD. I am able to help citizens because I know Spanish. It aids with the language barrier. It helps with building rapport ... I’m big on taking down barriers. I am a little involved in it and I’m able to explain what police can do for them. Our main thing is to be able to help them,” Karina said.
“During my first year of being at Irving PD, I participated in the Irving Penny Drive which is huge. The photo of the year depicted it. John Schingle used to be the head of SOTX for their department,” Karina recalled. The Penny drive raises money for elementary, middle, and high schools. The school that raises the most money gets an ice cream party! The ice cream party is epic; it includes uniformed officers, armored cars, music, DJ”s, costumes, and lots of food and fun. Karina said, “The moment they see you pulling up they’re excited. The little ones want you to dance with them and they get so into it.”
She continued, “I’ve mostly been a part of Tip A Cops. We do a Sonic Tip a Cops where we sell t-shirts and carhop and get to be Sonic workers for a day. Irving PD has had similar events at Cheddar’s and Texas Roadhouse. T-shirt table and able to make donations and buy a t-shirt. Interacting with people not only inside the department but the community of Irving.
“When I first started we did the opening ceremony at the University of Texas at Arlington. There was law enforcement from different cities and the athletes were on the sideline cheering you on. We ran the torch in and stayed to watch the athletes in their events. I’m hoping to participate next year in San Antonio. The very first time I went I said, “Oh I’m dining this again. I love this!”
Karina has had a solid relationship with LETR since joining. Doug Ray, Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, describes Karina saying, “I have been so impressed with the work that Karina has done to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run and our Special Olympics Texas athletes. Even though Karina is not an officer, she has been involved in all aspects of the Torch Run activities at Irving PD including the Tip a Cops and Penny Drives and selling merchandise. Karina also never hesitates to let me know if I have missed something or if I need to pick up the pace leading our Torch Run efforts. She is just an amazing person and I'm proud to work with her on this project called the Torch Run”.
In closing Karina addressed our athletes, she said, “Although we are all facing these tough times, I can't wait to be back. We are going to adapt and I hope we are back in person this year.