Of the 200 or so applications for police officer the Garden Grove PD received in its latest recruitment process that closes today, July 18, nearly two-dozen are from females.
That’s good, agency officials say, but there always could be more.
Finding promising recruits has become increasingly challenging for police agencies, and that’s especially true when it comes to finding potential officers who are female.
But law enforcement is a great and rewarding career for the right person, according to the GGPD’s nine full-time female police officers and two female reserve officers.
The GGPD, which is authorized for 168 officers, currently has one female recruit in the academy and one is in the background process for the next academy class that starts in November, says Lt. Carl Whitney of the Professional Standards Bureau.
“The Garden Grove Police Department believes in having a department that is reflective of the population we serve,” Whitney says. “We encourage women to apply for positions within the department. We would like to hire more.”
Adds Whitney: “We have found that some women police officers are better at communication and de-escalating tense situations. Our female police officers work a variety of assignments that include patrol, detectives and motors. We also have female police officers who are on the Crisis Negotiation Team because of their excellent communication skills.”
Christin Rogers is a two-year veteran of the GGPD who’s been a police officer for 12 ½ years. She currently is assigned to patrol.
“I was interested in understanding why crime occurred and how I could help,” Rogers says of pursuing a career in law enforcement. “This was also a great way to provide assistance to those who truly needed it — for example, making an arrest when appropriate.”
Rogers and others at the GGPD say police work isn’t for everyone.
“The mindset of a police officer has to be very specific, and she has to be willing to work well in a male-dominated profession,” Rogers says. “Not only does she have to be willing to take on her partners in regards to defending the idea that she can do the job, she also has to take on the public. Some situations are easier than others but all in all, the mindset of the female must be strong, which leads to few females entering the profession.”
Rogers says the most important challenge for a female police office is “finding her voice” to show that she can handle herself in any type of atmosphere or situation.
“Many times,” Rogers says, “I’ve arrived to a call only to be confronted by a male or female witness or calling party who asked if a male partner would be arriving to assist me, then adding the ‘no offense’ line at the end of the comment.”
Rogers advises women who are interested in becoming a police officer or member of a law enforcement agency’s professional staff to make sure it’s truly what they want to do.
“If you have any doubts,” Rogers says, “it’s OK to say, ‘This is not for me.’ I have learned it’s more important to be happy in your life than to prove a point, because this job is 24/7 no matter how hard you try to separate it from your personal life.”
Kathy Anderson is a 24-year law enforcement veteran. She has been at the GGPD for 20 years, and currently serves as a motor officer in the Traffic Unit. She decided to become a police officer because she loves riding motorcycles.
“I love being outside all day and I love the freedom on the motor,” Anderson says. “It’s a fun, exciting and unpredictable career.”
Anderson agrees with Rogers that police work is not for everyone.
“The academy is physically and mentally demanding,” Anderson says. “You have to prepare yourself and expect to see people at their absolute worst. You need to be a team player, dependable, and willing to sacrifice a lot of family time. You work long hours, as well as weekends and holidays. If you have a spouse, they are also affected as well so it would have to be a family decision to make the relationship work.”
Asked about challenges she’s faced at work as a woman, Anderson laughs.
“Bathroom breaks take us longer because we have to take our gun belts off,” she says. “Guys are in and out in no time.”
She adds: “If and when you decide to start a family, once you become pregnant you are stuck inside at a desk trying to lose the weight as quickly as possible to fit back into your uniform. I took six weeks off after having my daughter and after gaining 50 pounds. I had to shed that quickly.”
Anderson advises potential police officers to do their homework.
“Talk to other female officers,” she says. “I take a lot of phone calls from potential future officers. Go on ridealongs. You will see what it’s like during busy times of the day and night, and what types of calls happen on a day-to-day basis.
“Also, be prepared to write a lot of reports and spend a lot of time at court — on your on and off days. You will see how officers help each other out, which is expected. We’re a team out here.”
Anderson says police officers cannot be easily offended.
“There’s a segment of the population that do not like any police contacts and make it known using very unique and choice words,” she says. “I have been called every name in the book, and that was just last week alone. Be professional, courteous and dependable. I treat every car stop as I would want my parents to be treated.”
Anderson advises recruits to prepare early for a career in law enforcement.
“Get in shape for the academy by running, working out, and building up your upper- body strength,” she says. “The physical agility course is very demanding, and you will not make it through the academy if you are not physically and mentally prepared.”
Anderson also advises applicants to start learning radio codes and learn about the city they are applying for, such as its population, square miles, demographics, who’s on the City Council, who the chief is, and the type of policing the agency carries out.
“Keep your background clean,” Anderson adds, “and expect your social media accounts to be looked at. When I sit on oral boards, you can tell which applicants have researched the position, city and expectations. They are the ones that continue with the hiring process. You have to look and sound professional — you will represent the city and all of its members when you wear this uniform. It’s a great career.”
Claudia Alarcon is a 10-year veteran of the GGPD who currently is a property crimes detective.
“I’ve always wanted a career that allowed me to grow as a person,” Alarcon says. “I love how I’m always learning new things. It’s almost guaranteed that there’s never a dull moment.”
Adds Alarcon: “(Women) are not the largest or strongest. Unfortunately, we’re constantly being tested as to our ability to perform this job. It feels great to prove those who doubt us wrong.”
Alarcon also emphasizes the importance of going on a ride-along.
“One night out on the streets will definitely set things into perspective,” she says. “You will realize if this career is right for you or not.”
Rogers, Anderson and Alarcon say the GGPD is a great place to work.
“I love being apart of the GGPD,” Alarcon says. “I’ve made long-lasting friends here. I enjoy coming to work, and I love the people I work with.”
Rogers enjoys the family-first atmosphere at the GGPD.
“I have great partners who I know when I am out there doing my job will have my back,” Rogers says. “When looking for a department to work for, this atmosphere and feeling makes the day-to-day work all worth it.”
Anderson notes that Garden Grove is a very busy and culturally diverse city.
“You’ll get a lot of experience in a short amount of time,” she says. “I love working in the Traffic Unit. The guys are great and I am fortunate to be where I am at this stage in my career. I enjoy coming to work every day, and can’t believe time has gone by this fast.”
Whitney says he and other members of the GGPD command staff are very proud of the female police officers at the GGPD.
“They’re excellent mentors to young women who wish to become future police officers,” he says.
Go to ggpd.org/apply-now to submit your online application.