Tell us a little about yourself (how long you have been on) and what you have done in your career with the Sheriff’s Department. Also, tell us about your military background.
My name is Deputy Vanessa Rocha and I have been with the Sheriff’s Department since January of 2008. I was hired on as a Law Enforcement Deputy because I earned my California P.O.S. T. certification through Palomar Police Academy in San Marcos, while I was still on active duty, stationed at Camp Pendleton. I first began my career with the Sheriff’s Department at the Los Colinas Detention Facility, and after one year I was assigned to Fallbrook patrol, where I currently work.
I served 10 years of active duty service with the Navy as a Religious Program Specialist, and I am currently in the Navy Reserves, for a total of 16 years. Since my time on the department I have been on one deployment, and I was absent for a year. The Sheriff’s Department highly supports all of their deputies on a reserve and active duty status, and assures that they are taken care of while on deployments. I never felt I was forgotten while I was gone, which is an important factor as to why I have continued my time with the military. I received care packages while overseas, and upon my return back to work, the transition was smooth and I was given the time I needed to get back into the rhythm of patrol.
How does the training in the academy compare to basic training?
I attended Palomar Police Academy while I was still on active duty, so the transition for me was not hard at all. Law enforcement is based on a quasi-military style, the organization, uniforms, and rank designations were not hard to distinguish because of the military experience I already had. Due to the experience of basic military training and advanced training we attend throughout our military career, academy training was nothing of a surprise.
I would say I was in decent shape during the academy, and running with a utility belt and jumping over fences was something new I experienced, but fun and exciting. Being in good physical condition is important before the start of the academy because it helps to maintain a better focus on the academic portion of the academy.
What was the biggest adjustment in transitioning from military to law enforcement?
The biggest adjustment for me from military to law enforcement was probably realizing the responsibilities I carry from day to day. In the military, for the most part we are directed by our senior staff, or we direct junior personnel on a daily basis. We each have a routine and follow through until we are told different.
Our duties in the Sheriff’s Department, whether we are assigned to patrol, court services, or detention services, all hold a high standard of responsibilities and code of ethics, on and off duty. In the eyes of the public we are held to a higher standard at all times, and expected to act as such. We abide by and stand proud of our Core Values in the department, as likewise of our Core Values in the military.
Will my training/experience in the military be taken into consideration?
Speaking for myself, I believe my experience in the military placed me above some other applicants without a military background because of my knowledge of how an organizational structure works, and life experience. It is expected that those who have been in the military should have an easier transition going into the academy because of a disciplined mind set.
Do you have any advice for service members considering a career in law enforcement?
My advice for anyone considering a career in law enforcement is, "Do it!" Of course, you must have the want and desire to continue serving the public after your commitment in the military, but if it’s still in your heart to continue to serve, you will not regret making the decision to become part of another family.
If you commit to the hiring process and take the time to fill out all the required paper work, attend pre-academy physical fitness training that the department provides, and show up to all required testing, it will show that you are putting forth an effort before you are even offered a position. You will be better prepared before you even begin.
"Hang in there, it gets better and it is absolutely worth it!" That is my last piece of advice.
What about retired service members that are concerned with their physical fitness level?
Physical fitness must be a top priority before the start of the academy, and as a retired military service member you should already have some kind of fitness routine in place, if not, make the time for it.
I retire from the Navy in four years, and I would like to think if I started the hiring process soon after my retirement I would be able to keep up with most of them. Remember you are competing for a position during the hiring process! The benefit of being in shape before the academy and having a routine will be having energy for what you will soon be experiencing.