Community Engagement Liaison for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Misti Harris, entered law enforcement after leaving her career as a land use planner, to pursue public and community safety. She now fulfills her dream of helping others, helping them understand how the Sheriff's Office provides services for the entire community and sharing the community's thoughts on improvements with decision-makers in the Office. She was one of many first responders immediately following the October fires, and helped lead a team as a communication team-member sending out vital information to the public through Nixle alerts, social media and various communication platforms every day for three weeks. Harris lives in Forestville, where she can enjoy some of her favorite activities year-round—riding her motorcycle, practicing yoga and enjoying the outdoors with her dogs.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Truckee, shoveling snow in the winter and running amuck outside in the summer.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
My parents told me I could be anything and do anything—my dad always pushed me to think bigger and be successful. I wanted to be an attorney, an actress and a gymnast—all at the same time.
When did you get your first traffic ticket?
In my mid-20s. I got pulled over while on my motorcycle on Stony Point Road. I won’t say how fast I was going. Let’s just say it was well deserved!
As you sprung into action on the morning of the October 8 wildfires, did you ever feel scared?
I woke up at 1:30 a.m. from Nixle text messages. Smokey, hot air was blowing through my open bedroom window in Forestville. I knew something was wrong; I felt it in my gut. I got called in [to work] 30 minutes later. As I was driving, the red glow grew brighter and brighter. In Santa Rosa, cars were crawling westbound—I was the only one driving towards the flames and could clearly see them on the hills and the side of the road. I thought, What am I doing? I’m not the one who goes towards the flames! I’d been on the job six months. Then I realized that I am the one who goes towards the flames, so I carried on.
When did you last have fresh flowers in your house?
My best girlfriends from high school visited in January. I had bright-pink flowers on the dining room table for their arrival.
If you could go anywhere for a one-day visit, where would you go?
Somewhere deep in the Amazon. I’d love to spend a day in a wild part of the world, untouched by humans.
If you were forced to give up one of your senses, which one would you choose?
Smell. I find it more of a nuisance than anything else.
Which would you choose: a full-time chef or housekeeper?
Full-time housekeeper. I like a clean house and am surrounded by delicious restaurants.
If you were given a racehorse, what would you name it?
Something ridiculous, like Queen Celestial McStinky-Pants III. Horse racing is serious and classy with big bets, right? I think it would be hilarious to hear them announce that name.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Riding a dirt bike across Australia. Halfway across the continent, I broke my arm in three places. I had to ride in the support vehicle, and was livid I couldn’t continue riding, but I refused to end the trip. I was four days away from a hospital with just Advil and Tylenol. The only thing I could do was get beer out of the cooler at the end of the day. But, I saw the rest of the country, camped under the stars in the bush, spent time with the guys and learned the value of a team. I made it.
If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?
Instant mastery of every language in the world. That way, I could communicate with anyone about anything, whether it’s to save a life or create understanding.
Who is your hero?
I have two heroes for different reasons. The first is Martin Luther King Jr., because his passion and dedication to civil rights changed our entire nation for the better. My other hero is Shelina Moreda, a professional motorcycle racer from Petaluma. She’s creating her own path racing sport bikes internationally, and she’s mentoring women who want to race motorcycles.
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