Supporting young women in law enforcement
Shauna Gates ‘16 is the San Bernardino Police Department’s newest lieutenant. Though she manages a 40-employee law enforcement team in a bustling city, she still lends her time and experience to the social issues that inspired her to begin her career.
Both of Shauna’s parents grew up in the south during the Civil Rights Movement, but becoming the first female African American lieutenant in the nation is not exactly what she was aiming for. She says her job is to put her best effort into every day and mentor young women, encourage them to consider careers in law enforcement, and help build trust between the racial groups of her community.
“We have to be willing to start the conversation and then have the conversation [about race], she said.”
Shauna’s interest in law enforcement was sparked by elementary school field trips to the San Bernardino Police Department, where she learned about the profession and became enamored with the K-9 officers. High school elective courses in law enforcement stoked a passion that would led her to Cal State Long Beach, where she earned her Master’s in Emergency Services Administration.
“I am able to use what I learned in the CSULB program in my everyday career. It was a full time gig but, all my professors from the program were available to me,” She said.
Even though the course work was online, Shauna found the instruction to be immensely valuable. One of her favorite professors, Shirley Feldman-Jenson, was a huge help during her final thesis like keeping her committed to her main idea.
“Shirley helped me focus and narrow down my ideas [when pressed for time] so that I could finish,” Shauna said. “And the week before I graduated, leaving the house during those three days, wasn’t an option.”
Shauna became a sergeant prior to her master studies. Juggling work, school, family and study-time was a challenge, but Shauna wanted that “piece of paper” signifying her credentials in something that mattered most to her. She advocates education first.
“You should be able to put everything into your studies, especially in the beginning before you take a job and remember it’s never too late to get an education, you can still make it happen,” Shauna said.
The Public Safety Academy for San Bernardino youth has been a huge part of Shauna’s work. The Academy raises new generations of public safety servants with comprehensive coursework and hands-on training. Shauna continues to help young women fresh out of high school through the police cadet’s program during the summertime, and helps impart the technical skills and compassion that have been essential to her career.
Shauna has no intention of slowing down. She hopes to apply for a captain’s position in the coming years, and will continue to pursue her ultimate goal: encourage any woman who walks through her door to be an educated and well prepared police officer.