A Pasadena Police officer’s journey from retail to law enforcement


Pasadena Police Corporal Cristian Allen got his first job while waiting for his sister at the Glendale Galleria.

He was 18, in college, but unsure of what career path he would follow. What he found that afternoon, thanks to his sister, was a seasonal stock boy position at Victoria’s Secret. He soon discovered retail was a crash course in understanding customer service and dealing with the public.

What Corporal Allen did not realize at the time was his foray into retail would transcend itself to the career that would change his life – law enforcement.

“Here I was, an 18-year-old kid working at Victoria’s Secret, and I had to learn how to work with the public and how to read verbal and physical cues,” said Corporal Allen. “Retail taught me a lot about how to work with people and understand customer service, which is a large part of what I do now.”

Allen, now 33, can often be found at community events throughout the City of Pasadena, connecting with the public and sharing information on services and programs provided by the Pasadena PD. Under the Community Services Section, residents can find Neighborhood Watch Program, Curbside Coffee & Chat, Citizens Police Academy, Kids Safety Academy, the Pasadena PAL program and a host of outreach programs that connect the community with law enforcement personnel.

From candid conversations with neighbors at Coffee with a Cop events to overseeing the Department’s PAL program or walking with Pasadena students to class on National Walk to School Day – Corporal Allen is often at the heart of many of these events.

His work in law enforcement has given him a tremendous sense of purpose and fulfillment.

“Growing up in Compton, I never thought I’d be a police officer, but in college, I began taking Criminal Justice courses, and it appealed to me…” said Cristian. “I ended up going on a ride-along with Pasadena Police Officer Buchholtz and it was a great experience. The entire night is a blur to me now but what I do remember is going on different calls and regardless of whom we dealt with, I saw the compassion, empathy, kindness, and respect that Officer Buchholtz treated everyone with. Once I saw him and what the job could be like – I knew this was the career for me.”

In his 12 year career, Cristian says he has been fortunate to work Patrol, Community Services, and Traffic Enforcement Section, where he got to ride a motorcycle while policing. Besides Community Relations, Cristian says this was the most enjoyable assignment he has worked. “Where else can you combine two things you love, doing police work and ride a motorcycle.”

A motorcycle collision in 2016 forced him out of the Traffic section, and after nearly a year of recovery and a brief stint back in Patrol, he has returned to the Community Services Section. He now manages the Department’s Social Media, is the director of the PAL Program and is still very active in many of the Community Services events connecting Pasadena Police personnel and the community they serve.

“My crash nearly ended my career, but I was able to come back and the things I learned years ago in retail continue to fuel my approach to community contacts.”