In honor of International Women’s Day, Canal Alliance has chosen to elevate the stories and perspectives of some of the powerful and inspiring women in our community. From policy to education, and advocacy to community policing, Hispanic women are changing the face of leadership in Marin County.
Q & A with Officer Lorena Vega
Employer: San Rafael Police Department
I come from Mexican immigrant parents and am first generation Chicana. I have my BA in Sociology from CSU Sacramento and have been working for SRPD for one year.
Canal Alliance: How did you come to your current profession or industry?
Officer Lorena Vega: I have always wanted to be a police officer since high school. I would watch police officers on TV shows and think about how exciting the job looked. Right after college I applied for the police academy and now I am one of the police officers on TV with the exciting job.
CA: How do you define a leader in community policing?
LV: To put simply, a leader will demonstrate integrity, respect and ethical behavior. They do not always have to lead with their voice, but with their actions and conduct. A leader will take a genuine interest in the lives of those they supervise and encourage their journey and decision making.
CA: How have your personal experiences influenced your leadership style?
LV: Although I have only been a police officer for a year, I have been around law enforcement (through different roles) for seven years. I have seen leaders I would never mirror and other leaders that I admired. The leaders I admired were those that were interested and supportive in my journey in law enforcement. These leaders were strong, decisive, respectful, and always did as they preached. This is how I want to be as a leader.
CA: Have you had mentors or guides that you have looked up to as you have come into your current role or industry? How have they impacted your outlook on leadership?
LV: During my junior and senior year of high school, I was a Police Explorer with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. There I had a mentor who showed me how exciting the job could be. He was always happy to be at work and would always put on trainings for the Explorers such as how to do a traffic stop or how the pilots on the Sheriff’s helicopter operate. He taught me that although this job can sometimes weigh heavy and negatively alter one’s outlook on life, it is always important to have a positive attitude and enjoy the times you have with others. It is also important to help and encourage those that look up to you.
I think of my mentor when I see young girls and boys who run up to me when I walk through the neighborhood. No matter what call for service I came for, good or bad, I always remember to smile and hold myself tall. I want them to remember a positive interaction with a police officer, one that they can take back home and share with their mom or dad. You never know which child or teen you may encourage to make better decisions.
CA: What legacy would you like to create for other Latinas who may look to follow in your footsteps or use your leadership as an example for their own careers?
LV: I want other Latinas to feel strong in who they are and their background; however, I also want them to reach goals that stretch beyond old cultural customs. I want to create a legacy of women who are not afraid to enter into professions that are male dominated because of old beliefs that women are inferior or not “tough” enough. Whatever goal in life women have in mind, I want them to know that they have the fight in them to reach it.
CA: How does partnering/working with Canal Alliance to advance our mission fit into the legacy that you want to leave in your field?
LV: Partnering with Canal Alliance helps me spread my message out to others. It always allows others to get to know me and if they ever need help, now they have a familiar face to look for.