Captain Teena Gooding
For Captain Teena Gooding, becoming a police officer wasn’t a lifelong dream. “I just woke up one morning and said, ‘Hey, I want to try to be cop,’ and here I am.”
She certainly is here, nearing 20 years of service. She began her journey with Cayce Police Department in 1999 and presently works with the University of South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement and Safety.
In that time, Captain Gooding has worn many hats, but the one that got her nominated for the Officer Gregory Alia Award was her work with the South Carolina Special Olympics. As a member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics South Carolina Council Council, she is passionate about supporting Special Olympics athletes. She has been instrumental in coordinating the annual Gamecock Polar Pool Plunge which has raised $52,600 over the past five years.
To her, the best part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run is meeting the athletes. She remembers a time when she hosted a meet and greet with the police. “[The police] got to know them, know their names, know what they were competing in. The athletes were very happy because they love meeting police officers. Their smiles were out of control.”
Captain Gooding is also passionate about supporting women and teaches female self-defense statewide. “I started a self-defense program in 2005 at USC. There was a faculty member in a wheelchair. We started talking to her and going through some of the stuff we were going to teach. She wanted to learn self-defense. We made such a difference in her life that she reached out to the spinal cord people throughout the state and they asked us if we could teach self-defense classes throughout the state for people in wheel chairs or those with physical disabilities. It feels very rewarding to give them some sort of tool to defend themselves. We don’t tell anyone no.”
Conversations are the key to connecting with community according to Captain Gooding. “We have the ability to reach so many different people and change their perception of law enforcement,” she shared. At USC, this means connecting with her students. “We do presentations, have bbq’s, and hang out in university buildings. The goal is that when someone see us, the community doesn’t think something is wrong. We want to make that connection, we want them to be able to reach out to us, even after they graduate. The one on one connection to me is what’s really important to me.”
We are proud of Captain Teena Gooding and all of her outstanding work! Please join us in celebrating her life of service and connection!
About the Officer Gregory Alia Award
Serve & Connect was founded by Kassy Alia in memory of her husband, Greg Alia, who was killed in the line of duty on September 30th, 2015. This prestigious annual award is named in his honor and recognizes an outstanding officer who demonstrates a commitment to serve his/her community with respect and compassion; one who goes above the call of duty to ensure that members of the community are protected, cared for, and feel valued; one who treats all members of the community as equal and who employed their role with thoughtfulness and tact; and who through everyday interactions builds a safer community for all. The award is presented at our annual event, the Knight of Honor Gala, which will be held on September 28, 2018 in Columbia, SC.