Deputy’s ‘gentle strength’ led woman to get clean

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Six years into addiction recovery, a Grand Rapids mother reunited with the law enforcement officer who she says changed her life forever.

Kent County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Ryan Guernsey first knocked on Sarah Frank’s door during the spring of 2013. Frank was hiding out a motel, part of her plan to disappear from her life as a young single mother suffering from drug and alcohol addiction.

“I literally kissed my daughter goodbye that day knowing I wasn’t going to go back,” Frank said. “I went to a motel and stocked myself up with pills and booze and stayed there.”

Guernsey tracked Frank down shortly after her parents reported her missing. He told her that her parents were worried and she should head home.

“And I said, ‘I’m sorry, no,'” Frank recalled. “‘I’m fine, I’m fine.'”

She was far from fine.

Guernsey said Frank was drunk and high, but because she didn’t need medical attention nor would her needs be met in jail, he went for a third option. They had the first of many tough conversations.

“I was stern with her,” Guernsey said. “Coming from my job, I kind of have to be this way, and told her this is what you need to do or your life is going in this direction.”

But it’s what he did next that stuck.

The next day, he went back to the motel to check in on Frank — and he kept doing it until Frank agreed to leave the motel in the care of her father.

Years later, Frank is still in awe of Guernsey’s commitment to her well-being.

“It was incredible to me that a person who didn’t even know me, didn’t know anything about me, kept showing up to tell me that I was important and I deserved better,” Frank told News 8 recently.

The next few months were rough for Frank as she finally found her way to recovery.

Guernsey was never far away, offering encouragement through it all.

“There was something in his gentle strength that showed me that this isn’t the way I’m supposed to live,” Frank said.

In the six years that have come and gone, Frank has remained clean, sober and grateful to Guernsey.

“I’m thankful that I had an officer respond who didn’t want to do damage, he wanted to support and encourage and show hope when I was hopeless,” Frank said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t him who had knocked on the door that day and every day after.”

Over the years, Frank has kept in touch with Guernsey, sharing updates about her growing family and new career path dedicated to helping others in recovery.

One of her most treasured moments was when her daughter Charlotte met with Guernsey a few summers ago at a community event in Rockford. The two took a photo together, capturing the first time Guernsey had seen Charlotte since she was a baby.

ryan gurnsey and sarah frank daughter
Deputy Ryan Guernsey with Sarah Frank’s daughter, Charlotte. (Courtesy)

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