Meet L.A. County’s Seven Female Chiefs of Police

The United States may not have elected its first female president in 2016 but, in more ways than one, this past year has been a triumphant one for women. Nowhere is that more true than in Los Angeles County. In addition to a nearly all-female Board of Supervisors, L.A. is home to seven—count ‘em, seven!—female police chiefs who are changing the way officers interact with their communities.

“Female police chiefs bring more than their gender,” Stanford law professor David Sklansky told the L.A. Times. “Policing was and in many ways is held back by a culture of insularity and machismo, and diversity brings new and more creative thinking about what policing should look like.”

Sklansky’s research has found vast differences in the way female cops treat issues like domestic violence and race relations, so their rise to the top echelons of public safety is apt to reshape policing in their communities.

The L.A. Times recently profiled the county’s seven female police chiefs: Shelly Vander Even (Claremont), Jackie Gomez-Whiteley (Alhambra), Eve Irvine (Manhattan Beach), Sharon Papa (Hermosa Beach), Lisa Rosales (Glendora), Jacqueline Seabrooks (Santa Monica), and Sandra Spagnoli (Beverly Hills). Though they hail from different backgrounds, each of them has overcome great odds and brings a fresh perspective and skillset to their department.

Female law enforcement officers continue to make gains outside of L.A. as well. San Diego’s police department is currently led by Shelley Zimmerman. And in January, no-nonsense reformer Anne Kirkpatrick was appointed to head the Oakland PD in an effort to scourge the ‘frat-like’ atmosphere that contributed to a widespread sex scandal. In counties like Orange and Fresno, females are also heading sheriff’s departments.

Though public safety remains a largely male-dominated field, women are clearly a force to be reckoned with these days.


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