The three female Anaheim PD officers were cooling their jets at happy hour following a long day of participating on an oral board panel.
Then, the idea hit them:
Why don’t we try putting together an all-female team of sworn officers for the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay for law enforcement?
The conversation happened last year, just before the annual 120-mile weekend adventure that attracts some 260 teams and 8,000 runners, staff and supporters.
For Officer Flora Palma and Det. Leslie Vargas and Det. Julissa Trapp, it was an audacious plan.
Never before had the Anaheim PD fielded an all-female team of 20 runners and four backup runners who all were sworn officers.
Palma whipped out a pad and the three of them started writing down the names of all the female APD officers they knew. They came up with more than 25 names and signed their names below the list in a written oath to follow through with their plan.
Later, Palma, Vargas and Trapp were pleased to learn the APD has a total of 32 female officers, out of a total of 400 sworn personnel.
Now, with this year’s running of the Baker to Vegas relay set for next weekend, March 23-24, the “8 Percenters” — women ages 24 to over 50 — are ready to pound the pavement in the Mohave Desert (the team name refers to the percentage of APD officers who are female).
“Most importantly, this team was formed to strengthen the camaraderie and mentorship amongst the ‘8 Percenters,’ and of course to prove it could be done,” said Palma, team co-captain along with Vargas and Trapp.
Marly Campos, 30, is running the toughest leg, No. 15, which is 10.7 miles uphill.
Campos ran a lot while attending the University of Oregon, but fell out of running after becoming a sponsored professional in Olympic weightlifting. At one time she was in the top 10 in her weight class of 48 kilos (105.8 pounds).
Obviously, Campos – whose best snatch in competition was 136.6 pounds, and whose best clean and jerk was 165.3 pounds — still has the right stuff when it comes to running.
She was selected to tackle the toughest leg at Baker to Vegas after securing the fastest qualifying time among the 20 official APD runners, with an average pace of 7:16 over five miles on a flat course in Chino.
“I’m super competitive, so when I see people running next to me, it’s going to be motivating and it’s going to help me push,” said Campos, an APD officer for three years.
Added Campos: “It’s inspiring and motivating to be a part of history.”
On Wednesday, March 13, the team members held their final meeting and received their supplies for the run, including hats, T-shirts and jackets.
The supplies came in brown bags with a label designed by Trapp, with the following words superimposed above an image of “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, who excelled in golf, basketball, baseball and track and field.
We hate running, but we’ll suck it up to be part of Anaheim’s first Women’s Baker to Vegas Team. Thank you for supporting our team.
Lt. Kelly Jung is the highest-ranking member on the team.
“It’s the determination and tenacity of these amazing women, the co-captains that we have, who put this all together,” said Jung, who has been at the APD for 31 years and is thrilled about the formation of the 8 Percenters.
“They had a vision, that had an idea, and now it’s all come to fruition,” Jung said.
APD Burglary-Auto Theft Det. Erin Moore, a sprinter, is eager to run.
“Not all of us hate running,” she said with a laugh, “but some of us do.”
Officer Marisela Borkowski was with the LAPD for three years and has been at the APD for 19 years.
“It’s been a great career at Anaheim PD and now being a part of the first Anaheim PD WOmen’s B2V team is an honor,” said Borkowski, a Safe Schools investigator. “Being a member of 8 percent of the department’s personnel and obtaining this enormous achievement is gratifying. It’s all based on dedication and hard work set by our women and, most importantly, our team captains.”
About 10 of the 8 Percenters members have participated on past APD Baker to Vegas teams.
The 8 Percenters, team No. 283 in this year’s race, will be running in honor of Natalie Corona, the 22-year-old rookie Davis PD officer who was ambushed and shot to death on duty while responding alone to a three-car crash.
Six other law enforcement agencies will be honoring Corona by displaying her photos on their bibs.
The members of the 8 Percenters, whose target run time is 18:36:24, are:
Flora Palma-Patrol Officer
Leslie Vargas-Family Protection Detective
Julissa Trapp-Homicide Detective
Kacey Costa-Patrol Sergeant
Erin Moore-Burglary Auto Theft Detective
Caryn Slechta-Safe School Investigator
Staci Dietz-Community Services Officer
Jesica Maciel-Detention Officer
Jozette Murillo-Patrol Officer
Brooke Phipps-Patrol Officer
Merisa Downs-Burglary Auto Theft Detective
LadyCarla Cashell-Sex Assault Detail
Lisa Hunter-Retired APD Officer
Morgan Marcos-Patrol Officer
Marly Campos-Patrol Officer
Marisela Borkowski-Safe Schools Investigator
Yesenia Escobar-Retired APD Officer
Ashley Hunter-Patrol Officer
Heather Scaglione-Patrol Officer
Alisha Halczyn-Patrol Officer
Mira Heinzel- Patrol Officer
Danielle Holt-Detention Officer
Brenda Alarcon-Detention Officer