NORMAN — As the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one Norman resident will be likely be continuing to celebrate her retirement.
Pat Griffis, former records clerk, was the first African-American to retire from the Norman Police Department.
“I feel very proud,” Griffis said of her retirement. “I’m honored to be the first.”
While she said it makes her wonder why it hasn’t happened before now, she hopes it will show others it can be done.
“I set high goals for myself,” she said. “I feel proud that I I achieved those goals and I feel that I have made them (the police department) proud.”
Griffis was hired by the city in 1988, starting off at $6.50 an hour. She trained a majority of the records clerks there now, Kept the supervisor informed of everything going on and helped the public with records on a daily basis.
She said the thing she’ll miss the most is the people she worked with.
“Twenty-five years is a lot of time to spend with a group of people to not be touched in some kind of way,” Griffis said. “I’ll miss the whole department.”
However, after 25 years of work, she is looking forward to spending more time with family and having more time for her hobbies.
“I’m looking forward to traveling and spending time with my grandkids,” she said. “And fishing, sewing and canning.”
Griffis’ husband, James, has been retired for five years, and she said it has been nice to start doing things together with him again as well. Her retirement couldn’t have come at a better time, too.
James Griffis recently had some health problems, so she called her a retirement “blessing” since she now can be there to take care of him.
“I think everything fell in place really well,” she said.
At Griffis’ retirement reception in December, coworkers and friends couldn’t say enough good things about the kind of person she was and the professionalism she kept intact for those 25 years at the department.
“When people come into the police department, the records department is the first thing citizens see, so it’s important to have the right people working in that area,” said Chief Keith Humphrey at the reception. “The passion in that area — the passion, the professionalism — it’s just amazing. That says a lot because if you don’t have a professional staff there, that sets the tone for what’s to come later.”
Humphrey said Griffis has continually proven to be one of the finest employees in the department, and with her guidance and high standards, her retirement is a great loss to them.
She has had 11 letters of recommendation and two letters of commendation for Civilian Employee of the Year.
Deputy Chief Jim Maisano, who was the last headquarter sergeant, said things are going to be different without Griffis around.
“We’re gonna miss you and we’re gonna miss the work that you do, the guidance you provided, the help and training and everything in records,” Maisano said.
Capt. Mike Praizner, Griffis’ supervisor for the past few years, said her retirement is bittersweet for him.
“As a friend I’m grateful that you have the opportunity to retire. You worked hard, you deserve it. As a co-worker I’m gonna miss you. I can fill your position, but I can never replace you,” he said.
Praizner said the thing that impressed him the most is not her knowledge or competence, but her attitude while performing her job every day.
“You really do have a passion for people and that’s always stuck with me,” he said.
Other coworkers said they’ll always remember how selfless Griffis was, working holidays so that people with children could be at home with their families, or hearing the smile in her voice every time she answered the phone.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for us here,” Humphrey said. “We’re gonna miss you.”
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