Reprinted with permission from Behind the Badge
By Greg Mellen
Officer Natalie Garcia has already made her mark on the Santa Ana Police Division as a key member within the creation of a Pre-Academy for brand new recruits, a frontrunner on Chief David Valentin’s 30-for-30 marketing campaign to draw extra feminine officers, and a member of the social media group offering essential data to the general public.
As Garcia, who’s bilingual in English and Spanish, settles into her new workplace house on the Santa Ana Police Division, she seeks to carry efficient communication and transparency to the division as its new PIO, with a singular understanding of the neighborhood she serves.
For Garcia, the transfer is crammed with new challenges however a lot alternative.
“I’m honored and grateful to have been chosen as our Division’s new PIO. As somebody who dreamt of being a Santa Ana Police Officer at the beginning of their legislation enforcement profession, I’m humbled to be the ‘face’ of SAPD, however most significantly, I’m right here as a mirrored image and a useful resource for the neighborhood we serve,” she stated.
Garcia involves the position with an appreciation for its significance. She additionally appears ahead to forging deeper constructive relationships with the neighborhood. She already has some expertise, serving as a spokeswoman on a tragic hit-and-run, the case of a stolen parrot and extra. She stated she advantages from the division’s already robust neighborhood relations and the mentorship of former PIO SGT. Maria Lopez, Media Relations Coordinator, Yessenia Aspeitia, and Chief Valentin’s Government Assistant, Elizabeth Plotnik.
“I acknowledge there’s going to be many challenges, however I’m right here for it. I’ve a fantastic assist system each at work and at dwelling who I attribute my success to,” Garcia stated.
Lately, she labored on the division’s Social Media and Recruitment Group, and has been featured in viral social media movies. She has additionally been concerned in neighborhood occasions, engagement, and outreach, which dovetail properly into her PIO duties.
Garcia has additionally been working level the 30-for-30 marketing campaign, which appears to extend the proportion of feminine sworn officers within the division to 30 % by 2030. Santa Ana is one in every of greater than 325 businesses within the U.S. concerned within the 30-by-30 Initiative, based in 2018, and is making nationwide headlines for its efforts, that includes in a soon-to-be-published “Christian Science Monitor” article.
It’s no small feat.
As of Could, 34 of Santa Ana’s 355 sworn officers have been feminine. Nationally, about 12% to 13% of full-time sworn officers are feminine and solely 3 % are in management positions.
Garcia has been a welcoming face for SAPD for ladies keen on police work. She and fellow officers have visited faculties, profession gala’s and neighborhood occasions selling policing as a profession path. She was additionally a part of the primary all-female group from the division that ran within the 120-mile Baker to Vegas legislation enforcement run.
Garcia represents a brand new perspective amongst police departments that promotes officers as guardians of the neighborhood as a lot as enforcers of legal guidelines. She brings a contemporary authenticity and may join with each the neighborhood she grew up in and the police division that protects the neighborhood members.
Garcia believes she is especially suited to this position as a Hispanic lady.
“Our neighborhood is predominately Hispanic,” she stated. “Working patrol and with the ability to talk in Spanish to assist individuals as if I have been speaking to my family members, is rewarding.”
This helps her kind relationships between the neighborhood and the police division.
Garcia’s roots are in Santa Ana. Along with visiting her grandparents all through a lot of her childhood on the Westside of Santa Ana, Garcia’s mother has been a trainer within the Santa Ana Unified Faculty District for over 20 years.
“I by no means thought I’d be a police officer,” she stated, though she majored in Criminal Justice at Cal State Lengthy Seashore. Garcia’s plans after commencement have been to proceed into legislation college. Nevertheless, interning at a legislation workplace and being desk-bound with paperwork did little to have interaction Garcia.
A defining second
When she went on a ride-along with SAPD, a swap was flipped.
“That was my first introduction to policing and it left a final impression,” Garcia stated.
The exercise, the tempo, the variability, all of that appealed to her.
A part of the patrol space of her ride-along overlapped the place Garcia grew up, giving her a nostalgic expertise.
Garcia stated she went on a minimum of a half-dozen ride-a-longs with totally different departments. All of them strengthened her curiosity in police work and “each one in every of them drew me again to right here,” she stated of Santa Ana.
When the time got here to use for departments, the Orange County Sheriff’s Division was hiring, so she signed with them, went by way of the O.C. Sheriff’s Regional Coaching Academy Police Academy, and spent two years as a Deputy assigned to the Central Ladies’s Jail.
She values the time she spent as a Sheriff’s Deputy and is grateful to the division for giving her the chance, although “my finish objective was right here (in Santa Ana),” she stated.
Garcia was employed by SAPD in 2019. Since then, she has labored patrol on each watch and was on the High quality of Life Group earlier than shifting over to the Social Media and Recruitment Group.
She was a key member in serving to set up the division’s new Pre-Academy, which prepares newly employed officers for the trials they may face as soon as they enter the Police Academy.
Garcia stated she is happy as she settles into the job.
“Each day brings one thing totally different, she stated. “As PIO, I hope to be artistic and revolutionary, and convey mild to the division.”