An honor guard stood and the interim Santa Barbara police chief spoke Thursday during a ceremony for Gina Battaglia, a beloved police officer and dispatch supervisor who died suddenly from a work-related illness in August.
A plaque has been added to the department’s Fallen Officer Memorial in her honor.
Ms. Battaglia joined the department in September 2007 as a police officer working patrol, and she was promoted to a crime scene investigation officer in October 2015.
“One of Gina’s greatest CSI skills was finding and collecting fingerprints,” said Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale, the department’s public information officer. “If a burglar had known it was her investigating the crime, they would have given the crime a second thought.”
In July 2018, Officer Battaglia transferred to the Santa Barbara Police Combined Communications Center as a dispatcher and later was promoted to dispatch supervisor.
“Her training and experience as a police officer made her an absolute asset to the Combined Communications Center,” Sgt. Ragsdale said in a news release. “Gina truly had an ‘angel’s voice’ on the radio for the officers responding to potentially dangerous calls. Most don’t realize that a dispatcher is who an officer relies upon to keep them safe, and Gina kept her officers safe.
“Her friends and co-workers would describe Gina as always having a positive attitude and a welcome presence,” Sgt. Ragsdale said. “Her positivity was contagious. Her supervisors commented how she was amazing to work with and strived to do the absolute best job possible.”
Her hobbies included spending time helping with her children’s school activities such as baseball, softball and soccer. She enjoyed playing golf and was a classic car enthusiast.
“Gina was a dedicated public servant with a heart of gold,” Sgt. Ragsdale said. “She was deeply cared about by everyone she worked with, and her memory helps motivate all of us to be more positive, more caring, and more dedicated to our chosen profession.”
During Thursday’s ceremony at the department in her honor, Interim Chief Bernard Melekian said, “It’s not how they died for which you remember them, but how they lived.”
Officer Battaglia is survived by her husband and two children.
“Gina will always be remembered in our hearts and will always be a member of the Santa Barbara Police Department,” Sgt. Ragsdale said.