Former public safety officer overcomes medical odds after horrific accident

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 14, 2022

 After being sworn in as a Farms Public Safety officer, Veronica Cashion’s husband, Detroit Police  Lt. Jim Cashion, pins her badge on her uniform.

After being sworn in as a Farms Public Safety officer, Veronica Cashion’s husband, Detroit Police Lt. Jim Cashion, pins her badge on her uniform.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

 From left, Grosse Pointe Farms Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Derrick Kozicki shakes hands with Farms Public Safety officer Veronica Cashion after swearing in Cashion during a ceremony Dec. 10  at City Hall.

From left, Grosse Pointe Farms Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Derrick Kozicki shakes hands with Farms Public Safety officer Veronica Cashion after swearing in Cashion during a ceremony Dec. 10 at City Hall.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Strength isn’t always physical — it’s mental, too. Veronica Cashion knows plenty about both kinds.

Cashion was a public safety officer in Grosse Pointe Farms when a catastrophic accident in 2017 left her severely injured and unable to work. Her doctor told her that she’d never return to the road as a public safety officer again. Cashion proved him wrong.

“I was devastated,” Cashion said of the accident. “It was terrible. But your mind is a powerful thing.”

Cashion was sworn in again as a public safety officer Dec. 12 by Farms Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Derrick Kozicki in a brief ceremony at Farms City Hall. Her husband, Jim Cashion — a lieutenant in Special Operations with the Detroit Police Department — pinned her badge to her uniform.

Cashion, now 45, was 29 when she started her law enforcement career with the Detroit Police Department, which is where she met her husband. She worked for the Harper Woods Police Department, as well before switching to the Farms circa 2013. 

“I’m so proud of you,” Deputy Public Safety Director John Hutchins told Cashion Dec. 12. “It’s great to have you back.”

In July 2017, Cashion said she was leaving her gym and walking across the parking lot when a truck suddenly hit her. Although she didn’t sustain any broken bones, she experienced a torn rotator cuff and back injuries, among other problems. 

“It took me three years to recover,” said Cashion, who spent two of those years undergoing intense physical therapy. When physical therapy didn’t seem to be helping her, she said, she stopped and began exercising on her own to restore her strength and range of motion. 

Cashion was able to return to the Farms as a dispatcher about a year and a half ago, but she wanted to be able to work as a public safety officer again. She continued her independent exercise program for about two years, until her personal doctor finally cleared her to be able to serve as an officer once more.

“I wanted to finish my career (on my terms),” Cashion said. “When I start something, I finish it. I worked very hard to get here before the accident.”

Jim Cashion said the last five years have been filled with tragedy for his wife. She lost her mother to COVID-19 in early 2020, after having already lost her father, grandmother and brother in the years leading up to the pandemic. 

“For her to come back after going through all of that says it all,” Jim Cashion said. “We’re looking for some positive now. We’ve had enough negative.” 

He said his wife “loves being a police officer” and “loves Grosse Pointe Farms,” so it was heartbreaking when medical experts told her she’d never be strong enough to do the grueling physical work that comes with fighting fires and doing police work. He’s not surprised she rose to the task, though.

“She’s very driven,” Jim Cashion said. “She wants to accomplish more.”

Cashion, who grew up in Dearborn and now lives in Macomb Township, said she was the first person in her family to go into law enforcement — a decision that alarmed her mom.

“I was going to school for civil engineering,” Cashion said. “And then I had a friend of mine (in college) who was going into criminal justice. He said, ‘Take a couple of classes with me.’ And (then) I realized I didn’t want to be behind a desk.”

Cashion ended up earning a degree in criminal justice from Henry Ford Community College in preparation for a career in law enforcement.

Cashion was Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen’s last hire before he retired at the end of 2021.

“I couldn’t be happier to see her come back,” Jensen said. “She is an excellent, professional, caring officer, and one of the great ones. I’m really ecstatic she was able to come back.”

Hutchins, who became the Farms’ public safety director Jan. 1, agrees wholeheartedly with that.

“Veronica Cashion is a testament to toughness, resiliency and perseverance,” Hutchins said by email. “When she had her accident almost five years ago, we had all heard it was bad but didn’t initially realize the full extent of her injuries. She suffered neck, back and shoulder injuries that left her incapable of performing her duties. Losing her was a tremendous blow to the department, as she brought veteran experience to the job and was well-liked by the troops. When she returned as a part-time dispatcher a few years ago, we were so happy to have her back in any capacity. She was still in the process of rehabilitation and painful physical therapy, while coming in to work the desk on different shifts. Veronica put in the hard work, got herself back into tremendous shape and was able to re-certify with the state. She attended an MCOLES re-certification school, which we sponsored. The school recognized prior training and experience, and upon passing the state requirements, we were able to re-hire her as a PSO again. The entire department is elated to have Veronica back where she belongs.”

MCOLES is the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

Cashion said she’s grateful for the support she got from the Farms — especially Hutchins and Jensen — who held off as long as they could on replacing her after the accident. When she was able to return as a dispatcher, she said they eagerly welcomed her back. 

“I’m so thankful for how patient they were with me,” Cashion said by email. “That is one of the reasons why I decided to come back — this department had my back.”

Cashion hopes to get promoted during her tenure with the Farms, and also said she’d like to continue some of the work she did before in the community, including the Shop with a Cop program for children in need. She’s a proud stepmom to her husband’s two young adult sons, and she’s also a dog mom to Sampson, a 13-year-old Yorkshire terrier.

She hopes her story inspires others to not give up their dreams in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

“If there’s something you want, go after it,” Cashion said. “Don’t let something stop you from doing what you love to do.”

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