As a 12-year veteran of the Upper Moreland Police Department, Officer Kelly Ruddell said that she thrives on the ever-changing nature of an officer‘s daily duties.
"The variety of experiences, that's what was interesting to me. Each day is different. Things are always changing," Ruddell said, a married mother of three.
Ruddell initially became interested in policing during her undergraduate studies at Penn State, when she interned with the police department in Warminster.
“I really enjoyed my time there,” she said.
During her college internship, Ruddell worked many different shifts with detectives out on patrol. This taste of life as an officer cemented her desire to pursue a career in policing.
“The internship is what did it for me,” Ruddell said.
After passing the test to become a police officer, Ruddell took a position in Upper Moreland, where she's worked ever since, and she said providing assistance to community members is one of the best parts of her profession.
"Just to be out there with people and helping them in their time of need is very rewarding," she said.
Ruddell has several different roles in the police department.
Besides her standard patrol duties in the community, she manages all the department's evidence, and she assists in administrating the department’s coding system and records management system.
"The best part is you do a little bit of everything," she said.
Ruddell also works as a field training officer, showing new hires the ropes, and she serves on the oral board for new hires, participating in interviews for prospective officers. She has worked with interns in the department, as well.
“It’s a benchmark of how well-thought of she is,” said Upper Moreland Police Sergeant Mark Drakeley, saying that the department regarded her work so highly that she is trusted to screen and train new officers.
Additionally, Ruddell has served as an OIC, or officer in charge, performing supervisor-level duties in the absence of a sergeant.
As an officer, Ruddell has received several unit citations, being recognized for work with a shooting at the Huntington Valley Country Club, work during Tropical Storm Allison, and rescuing people from an apartment fire caused by arson.
Ruddell is currently pursuing a master's degree in forensic science at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Despite the recent popularity of TV shows dealing with forensics, Ruddell said that a longtime personal interest, not one spurred by pop culture, inspired her to seek further study in this field.
"It's always piqued my interest how the field of forensics works," she said. "It provides me as a police officer with a chance to look at a crime scene out of the box [with a] different perspective. My daily police work is influenced by it."
Juggling postgraduate studies, a full-time police officer position and a family may sound difficult to some, but Ruddell said things seem to work themselves out.
"It balances itself out - it's a good balance," she said.
And ultimately, the variety of roles she fills as an officer fuels her enjoyment of her job.
“I love it. It’s different every day,” she said.
Sergeant Drakeley praised Ruddell’s work ethic.
“She’s as good of a police officer as we have,” he said. “There are a lot of really good police officers here - Kelly’s one of the best.”
According to Drakeley, some of Ruddell’s natural qualities help make her a better officer.
“She’s blessed with the ability to talk to people,” he said. “She has enormous patience and the ability to deescalate a situation.”
Drakeley also admired Ruddell’s organizational skills, a must for handling departmental evidence, but said that her best quality went beyond her professional talents.
“Most importantly, she’s a good person,” he said.