Nearly 400 years ago, a group of Bostonians created the first known American law-enforcement system. Watchmen, constables and volunteers would patrol the streets at night to keep the city safe. It’s a long-held system, and, thankfully, one that thousands of law-enforcement officers maintain throughout the U.S. to this day.
Today, we’re talking about women in law enforcement, and if you’re like me, you probably have a lot to learn on the subject. After all, there’s a lot more to cops than that old doughnut stereotype. So, grab your fried pastry of choice, settle in for a great story and give our women in blue the opportunity to inspire you.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 219
While women are perfectly adequate (and often incredibly fierce) when it comes to holding law-enforcement positions, it comes as no surprise that we’re sadly underrepresented in top positions in the field.
According to the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, of the more than 14,000 police agencies in the United States, only 219 women held leadership positions as of a few years ago. And women make up only about 12 percent of active-duty police officers.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Sandra Spagnoli, Police Chief of Beverly Hills, California
While these numbers are quite dismal, there are indeed women who are making significant strides in the law-enforcement field. One such commanding woman is Sandra Spagnoli, the first female police chief of Beverly Hills, California.
With more than 30 years of experience, Sandra has made some really remarkable strides in her law-enforcement career, and somehow had time to earn her master’s degree in public administration along the way.
Sandra is the oldest of eight kids, and says she was raised to understand the value of volunteering and giving back to her community. This instilled a purpose that stuck with her and, as early as high school, motivated her to pursue a career in public safety.
In the early 1980s, she began volunteering as a police explorer through a program that helps young adults understand firsthand what a career in law enforcement entails. A few years later, Sandra was hired as a full-time police officer. It took only six years for her to be promoted to sergeant, and in an additional two years, she was promoted to commander. Sandra served as the police chief for two other California cities before tackling the big job in the 90210.
Known for her outstanding reputation and integrity, Sandra says the demands of her position are many, with a workload that includes enforcing policies and overseeing a department, and achievements such as implementing contemporary public-safety initiatives, developing community partnerships and enhancing neighborhood outreach. The words of her father, who grew up in Europe in the era of World War II, are at the heart of Sandra’s work ethic: “Treat people fairly and don’t abuse that power.”
For Sandra, connecting with the community is integral to ensuring public safety. That’s why she hosts a meet-and-greet program called Coffee With Cops, through which citizens can voice their concerns and personally get to know the officers who protect their city.
Thanks to Sandra’s years of devotion to the job and her determination to neighborhood engagement, it’s clear that this Beverly Hills cop is already a hero to her community.
QUITE THE QUOTE
With Sandra Spagnoli’s decades of service in mind, I’ll leave you with this quote by writer Joseph Campbell. He said:
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us!
To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.