Colleen Flores is making history as the La Verne Police Department’s first female chief of police. She began as an explorer at the Upland Police Department before going to the academy to become an officer.
“I definitely don’t take it for granted,” said Flores, 47, who took the helm in January. “I never thought as a new police officer that I would ever go to the top of the organization.”
That is exactly what she did, though. In fact, former Arcadia Police Chief and mentor to Flores, Bob Sanderson, said that she always struck him as someone who would one day be Police Chief.
“She was the person that would do her job and then she would go and help you out,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson, who described Flores as a go-getter, promoted her to both sergeant and then lieutenant at the Arcadia Police Department.
“It felt like everything had come full circle,” Sanderson said. “The next generation had made it and now it is her turn to continue being that mentor to other people.”
Like Sanderson, La Verne City Manager Bob Russi had nothing but good things to say about Chief Flores. He said he is excited to see how she will move the department forward and that she has a wealth of experience from outside of the La Verne world that she will be able to use to make the department that much better.
“I’m glad that we have come to that point in our organization but I don’t think it’s surprising,” Russi said.
Donna Redman, University of La Verne professor of education, was also excited when she discovered that Flores would be assuming the role of Chief.
As the first female City Council member in La Verne, Redman knows how it feels to enter a traditionally male-dominated position. She emphasized that with being a woman comes a different perspective that can be beneficial to the work environment.
“The very first female police officer that worked at La Verne PD…She called me to congratulate me,” Flores said. “She’s in her 80s.”
Her name is Maxine McClain and she began in the 1960s. There are photos of her hanging in the LVPD hallway, showing how life as a female police officer used to look.
“She’s legitimately wearing a skirt and pumps carrying a handgun,” Flores said. “We’ve come a long way.”
Still, out of the over 300 chiefs in the state of California, only 16 are female, Flores said.
“The people that have retired from here long ago are still watching to see what we’re doing, and I don’t want to let them down,” Flores said.
Flores plans to hold a department meeting March 1 to discuss future plans for the LVPD. She also expects for the department to put a lot of effort over the next few months into a strategic plan to connect more with the community as well as a succession plan.
Olivia Modarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.