Sometimes, the drama of police work can’t be heard.
“Are you hurt?” Officer Ken Gregory asked the female participant in a knock-down, bloody domestic dispute.
She was deaf. Gregory knew some sign language.
“Where are you hurt?” he asked her.
Not yet fully proficient, Gregory tried but could not explain to the deaf woman that her husband was going to jail.
That’s when he decided to get serious about sign language.
Gregory, who retired from the Anaheim PD on Nov. 12, 2009, recounted this story as he reflected on his 32½-year career as an officer, which included being the only cop in the department proficient in sign language.
His expertise was frequently sought by other law enforcement agencies.
Gregory, 56, enjoyed a career that was packed with making connections with the public – something he thrived on for 27 years working patrol.
“The people in Anaheim made my job enjoyable,” said Gregory, a 30-year resident who is enjoying retirement with his wife, Sharan.
The Gregorys have two grown children, Adam, 22, a fireman, and Stacy, 26, who teaches English in Japan with her husband, Jonathan.
Gregory is a recognizable face around town – and other towns.
“I walk into a Costco and people say hi,” he says. “I go to Las Vegas and people from Anaheim recognize me.”
Gregory’s parents are from Winnipeg, Canada. He recalled working the night when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup finals. A woman walking to her car said hello to him. He recognized her Canadian accent, and the two chatted for a bit.
Throughout his law enforcement career, he’s thrived on such human connections.
Now, he and Sharan enjoy going on cruises. He’s been on two since he retired, and is planning a third.
Gregory, a graduate of Hawthorne High School (“Home of the Beach Boys,” he proudly says), graduated with a degree in criminal justice from Cal State Long Beach and spent 20 months as a cadet for the Inglewood PD before joining the Anaheim PD in 1977.
“They were hiring,” he explained of his decision to join the Anaheim force.
He spent two years doing CSI work “before it was cool” and worked burglary detail, but his heart always was in patrol.
For the last eight years, Gregory has worked as a volunteer for the California School for the Deaf in Riverside. Since retiring, he volunteers two to three times a week.
“I miss the people at the Anaheim PD,” he says. “But I’m happy.”
And he’ll be happy to say that in sign language.