Los Angeles

When Women Lead: For the First Time, LA County Has 7 Female Police Chiefs

"Won't it be great that one day we won't be the anomaly?"

For the first time in Los Angeles County history, seven women are serving as police chiefs.

They all came together Wednesday at a forum at University of Southern California where the conversation centered on the social media campaign #whenwomenlead.

The chiefs come from all parts of Los Angeles County, from Glendora to Manhattan Beach. Some have served as chief for years and others are new to the post.

All of the women have decades of experience in law enforcement, but they approached the job in law enforcement from different angles. One had history with her aunt breaking the glass ceiling in one department back in the late 70's. Another was influenced to join the force after two childhood friends were killed.

"The job really revolves around the interaction within the community and prevention part of it," Hermosa Beach police Chief Sharon Papa said. "There have been numerous studies that show female officers get involved in fewer uses of force. I think we are better communicators and we are a little more patient."

They spoke about the challenges and opportunities to rise in the ranks, but also bridging distrust some in the public have with police.

"It would be nice if we could hire the right people for the job and if that person happens to be a woman, then so be it," Manhattan Beach police Chief Eve Irvine said. "If not, then that's a different story, but it won't it be great that one day we won't be the anomaly?"

Many said they constantly balance what it is like to be in an officer's shoes and at the same time remember they are moms or wives or just plain neighbors.

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