After nearly 30 years in state law enforcement, Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agent Shelley Bishop is retiring. By many accounts, she is a one smart, professional, experienced, dedicated law enforcement officer.
"Shelley had a specialized job in our TRACE unit," said ABC supervising agent Jeff Gregson. "She was different than other ABC agents. She was good at being able to work with grieving families and was a champion of victims' rights."
Bishop was one of only three investigators statewide to tackle cases in which minors, under the influence, became involved in major crimes. It was Bishop's job to track down where the minors got the alcohol and pursue administrative and/or criminal charges if violations occurred. "She covered every case from the Grapevine to the border," said Gregson.
As Bishop retires from ABC, she is also retiring from her role as president of the California Association of Special Investigators (CASI) and as a board member of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA).
"Shelley is smart and has served our board and our members well," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "She spent decades protecting Californians, years pursuing what's best for her co-workers and along the way she learned how complicated the political process can be and how it effects public employees."
Bishop's law enforcement career began as an officer with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in 1984. Within a year of service in Riverside County, Bishop moved to Northern California and became an investigator with ABC.
"I was stationed in the Santa Rosa District," said Bishop. "In fact, I was involved in some of the first minor decoy operations in the state."
That was just the beginning of Bishop's adventures with ABC. Within a few years she transferred to Rancho Mirage and with that came the Palm Springs spring break assignment.
"It was crazy," recalls Bishop. "Thousands and thousands of kids came into the area." Ironically, it was her work with kids as a juvenile hall counselor in 1980 in Mendocino County that sparked her interest in law enforcement. "It made me realize I would rather put people in jail, than babysit them," said Bishop.
And put people in jail, she did. Bishop recalls a time she assisted in a reverse john operation with an area police department in Indio. "There were two of us working the notorious area where Jimmy Swaggart was arrested two weeks later," said Bishop. Anyone who knows anything about law enforcement officers and reverse john operations, knows the decoys take pride in their work. Bishop was no different, "I must say, I did get the most money offered and the highest number of offers that night." She was good for business that night and good for cleaning up a troubled area.
Troubled by the many times she came face to face with kids high on various drugs and in all states of intoxication, Bishop marched forward in her ABC career and became a vital part of a program that won national awards in Washington D.C. For eight years, she worked as a trainer in the program called, LEAD (Licensees Education on Alcohol and Drugs).
And then, in what Bishop describes as the most rewarding position in her career, Bishop became part of the TRACE (Target Responsibility on Alcohol Connected Emergencies) program. "This is where we would investigate any major incident that involved a person under 21 who had been drinking and caused death or major injury to themselves or someone else," said Bishop. "With this we would bring criminal charges against the person who gave or caused the under 21 to drink. And if a licensed location was involved, we would charge the licensee administratively."
Why did this become the most rewarding part of her service to the state? "I have met many grieving parents holding on to hope that justice could be done for their deceased child," said Bishop. "Many had no one else to turn to. I was pleased to be able to offer them some small sense of hope and justice."
"I couldn't have put a better person in that position," said Gregson. "Shelley was superb at being able to reach out to these victims and help them find who was responsible. She provide closure to a lot of these families."
Never one to sit on the sidelines, Bishop took on an additional cause as an association leader, "I started in CASI just helping out at a convention in Palm Springs. Next thing I knew, I was at the CASI annual meeting and elected to a board position!" Within a few years, Bishop became president of CASI and sat on the CSLEA board of directors.
“Shelley never hesitated to advocate on what she believed was right," said CSLEA Chief Counsel and General Manger Kasey Clark. "Especially in looking out for the people she represented as president of her affiliate and as vice-president of the sub-unit representing Unit 7 peace officers.”
"The years with CASI and CSLEA offered me opportunities that I never would have dreamed of," said Bishop. "I was shown the political process and the effects it has on employees. Most important, I met many wonderful people who just wanted the best for their co-workers. It has been an experience that will never be forgotten and friends who I will always remember."
On November 8th, CSLEA President Alan Barcelona presented Bishop with a plaque and thanked her for five years of dedication and service.
As she looks back at her role in nearly three decades of state law enforcement, Bishop recalls having an interest in police work at an early age. She was born in Germany, the daughter of an Army officer, and raised in a small town in Texas where she became fascinated by the work of the Texas Highway Patrol. She graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. When she first moved to California in 1978 she started out with the American Red Cross.
Along the way, there were days when Bishop would think, "retirement can't happen soon enough, " but suddenly it seems to have all passed in a flash. "At least you feel like you helped contribute to society in some small way."
Most would argue, there is nothing small about it. "In law enforcement for 30 years, she was damned good at it," said Gregson.
Congratulations Shelley Bishop! Enjoy your retirement.