New Pasadena police employees consider ‘work-life' balance as they begin career

By Cindy Arora

Stephanie Lack is a new Pasadena Police officer working the graveyard shift. She’s also a single-mom with two little girls under the age of four who sleep while she works and go to a babysitter while she sleeps.

Dominique Thompson, is the wife of new Pasadena Police officer Cavanaugh Thompson Jr., he’s been on the force for six months and the two work opposing schedules. He recently found out his new schedule will include working weekends.

Commander Ed Calatayud is a veteran police officer who has been with the Pasadena PD for 20 years. He has several examples of having to leave in the middle of a family event, including his daughter’s 3rd birthday party.

It hasn’t been easy, but it’s part of the job, he admits.

For most who work in law enforcement, learning how to balance work-life is one of the jobs many challenges. This was the topic of conversation at the Pasadena Police Department’s New Employee Dinner held on Thursday November 8th which brought together new sworn and non-sworn officers who have been on the job for less than a year.

The event was put together by the Department’s Peer Support Program, which helps new employees and their families understand that joining the PD is much like joining a demanding second family.

“It’s all part of the commitment level of the job – which, can come as a shock to new recruits and their families,” Calatayud said. “But we try to help demystify what we do with these type of events, so their families can understand what we are doing. It helps  families wrap their heads around where their loved ones are going when they walk out the door.”

The Peer Support Program offers its police officers and staff a number of support programs, from PTSD counseling for police officers returning from the military to therapy for those going through a death in the family, divorce or anything critical in their lives.

The annual New Employee Dinner encourages new officers and staff to bring their family, friends and spouses to they get a chance to familiarize themselves with the demands of a job in law enforcement. But also, so the new hires can meet others on the team who have been successful maneuvering through the demanding schedule.

New Pasadena Police Officer, Stephanie Lack. Photo courtesy Pasadena Police Volunteer /Bob Reiter

“We are a family here too and we try to be a big support system for anyone on our team who is going through something critical,” says Michelle White, Park Specialist for the Pasadena Police Department and member of the Peer Support Program. “Times can get tough for our officers, sworn or non-sworn and their families will see it.”