When Andrea Albin spotted the job posting in the classified section of the newspaper, the words jumped off the page.
The Tustin Police Department was looking to hire a part-time property and evidence specialist.
The year was 2000.
Albin had recently moved to Tustin. She was raising four children who ranged in age from 7 to 13.
“I knew when I read it that it was right,” Albin said. “I’ve always been interested in law enforcement. I live in Tustin. All four of my kids were still in school at the time. It seemed like a great opportunity.”
Now, 18 years later, after safely securing property and evidence ranging from guns, narcotics, money, and blood to skateboards, bicycles, samurai swords, and rooster statues, Albin is moving up.
Albin has been promoted from a property and evidence technician to supervisor of the unit.
When she first started, Albin didn’t realize the importance of the job.
“There are only five people in the whole department who have access to the property office,” she said. “Even the Chief can’t get in.”
She didn’t know that the unit secures firearms and ammunition.
“When I first started for about three months, when somebody would come to the window about a magazine, I thought it was the kind that you read,” she recalls. “There was a lot to learn. They told me it would be a five-year learning process and it really was.”
As supervisor, Albin won’t be doing as much of the day-to-day dealings with property and evidence. Instead, she’ll be taking on a more administrative role.
The property and evidence unit is also tasked with maintaining and ordering virtually every piece of equipment and tool used by the police department, and Albin will oversee all of it.
She’ll issue uniforms and badges and order everything from batteries to light bulbs to office furniture and vehicles and will oversee a staff of two full-time techs and one part-time tech.
As supervisor, she’ll schedule shifts and write budgets and prepare agenda reports for the City Council.
Because the unit interacts with all types, from sworn officers to civilian employees, crime suspects to crime victims, the ability to empathize and sympathize are important, said Dave Kanoti, Albin’s former supervisor, who was promoted to field support division manager.
“Her people skills are incredible,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. She can sometimes come across as a mother figure to young offenders… She is able to diffuse people and let them know what our procedures are.”
Those four young children Albin was raising when she started are now grown and married with families of their own. She also has two grandsons.
Spending as much time with family as possible is high on Albin’s priority list, and the family vibe is one of the things that has kept her at the Tustin Police Department for 18 years.
“Everybody looks out for each other,” she said. “We really are a family here.”