Bad things happen everywhere, and in Santa Cruz a really bad thing happened to two well-respected police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty this week. But that incident won’t deter those who are drawn to serving their community, says a 15-year Santa Clara County Sheriff’s veteran. And it surely won’t deter women who are drawn to her line of work.
It is those women to whom Lt. Delia Rodriguez is inviting to the department's first-ever Women in Law Enforcement Symposium on March 9 in Morgan Hill.
The symposium is designed to give a glimpse into what Rodriguez calls a “rewarding” career. It will include a panel discussion, review of the variety of careers available within law enforcement, interview techniques and a physical agility demonstration.
One of the fallen officers in the Santa Cruz killings was a woman, Elizabeth Butler, but Rodriguez says learning about a woman cop dying and continuing to pursue a career in law enforcement is no different than a soldier finding out a comrade died in battle, yet choosing to head into the next fight.
“That’s not going to stop someone from moving forward, because their partners are being killed. They believe in the safety and security of their country. And that’s what we believe in, we want to make our community a safer place to live,” Rodriguez says.
“This is about serving the people in your community, making a difference in people’s lives.”
Rodriguez knew in high school that she wanted a career in law, and while in college was drawn to counseling, too. She says she found the balance of all her interests at the Sheriff’s Office.
Women can be tough, but there are times that Rodriguez says she’s used the gentler side of her gender to calm down sticky situations.
“There are some times when you’re dealing with someone angry or upset and women have a way of calming that person down a little better. There (were) times when (someone) was not responding to my male partner and I’ll step in and say ‘Hey what’s going on, and then their tone changes,’” she says.
Rodriguez’s career includes time on patrol, as a detective, in the courts division and in training. Each has its personal rewards, but nothing compares with the feeling she gets seeing the look of pride on her own kids' faces when she speaks at their schools.
“What’s most important to me is the times I go to my kids' classrooms, where I’ve put on my uniform … taken my patrol car, sit in the classroom and see the joy on their faces. To see that my kids feel proud of what I do. That’s my biggest reward, for them to be so proud,” Rodriguez says.
The Women in Law Enforcement Symposium is from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Santa Clara County Justice Training Center, located at 19050 Malaguerra Avenue in Morgan Hill. Pre-register at WLES@sheriff.sccgov.org or visit sccsheriff.org.