On Tuesday, the Mayor recognized August 26, 2019 as Women’s Equality Day. This is an opportunity to recognize and honor efforts of women and men who fought for equal rights for women. It is also an opportunity to bring attention to the major role that women play in positions of leadership.
This year nationwide we also acknowledge the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Whether it be voting in general elections or voting on local legislation, our three women councilmembers don’t take their right for granted. Having a voice and the opportunity to help steer our community and country is priceless.
We’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the city’s female Public Safety staff, where in many roles women have typically been under-represented. Whether it be answering 9-1-1 calls for help, analyzing evidence, scheduling trainings, filing police records, establishing relationships with our youth, dowsing a fire, or chasing down a criminal - our Public Safety females work hard. In total, women represent 33 percent of the department’s 101 employees. We’re proud to report that 14 percent of our sworn officers are women. That is a pretty impressive number given they are both police officers and firefighters.
There is a growing number of women applying for and obtaining Public Safety positions. We have three female officers who have been on the force for over 10 years. The other seven female officers were hired within the last five years.
One of the people I’d like to highlight is School Resource Officer, Gina Piccinini. She works directly with students visiting our schools and keeping lines of communication open with the youth of our neighborhoods. Her work varies from day to day but one thing remains constant – her desire to form lasting relationships and leave positive impressions on the youth she works with. It is important that our youth, especially young women, feel safe and trust our officers. We want to form a partnership with our community.
In 45 pounds of flame-retardant gear, you will find Debbie Smith, Public Safety Officer/Engineer, who has worked for Public Safety for 12 years, and Debbie Lamaison, Public Safety Officer/firefighter who has worked for Public Safety for 15 years. Both have worked patrol and are currently assigned to our Fire Division. Working alongside their teammates, they respond to emergency calls throughout the city. The physically demanding job is no walk in the park; however, the women of the Rohnert Park Public Safety Department don’t skip a beat.
When the 9-1-1 distress call comes in, you can count on our all women dispatch team to answer. The hours aren’t always ideal, and the nature of calls can be stressful, but it never slows our dispatch team down. Their priority is to keep calm, be courteous and most importantly be helpful. We hope that you never need to speak to them, but if you do, they will help you through your worst day.
I am privileged to work with the exceptional women of the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety. Their professionalism, commitment to the community and dedication to the Public Safety mission is inspiring.