February 21, 2024 / News

HERstory: Officer Jessica Thrift

As we prepare to celebrate Assistant Chief Sandra Albrektsen with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2024 Women in Blue Luncheon, each week we’ll be sharing a story of a female leader at the San Diego Police Department. The “HERstory” campaign is a vibrant tribute to the Honor, Excellence, and Resilience embodied by our women in blue, shedding light on the remarkable women behind the uniform.

Which unit are you currently assigned to?

I am currently the Coastal Community Resource Officer for the Northern Division.

How many years have you served in law enforcement/public safety? 

I have worked for the San Diego Police Department for five years. The department has so much room for growth and development.  In such a short time, I have worked patrol, worked as a School Resource Officer, investigated both juvenile and adult criminal cases, and now I work closely with community members by providing resources and solutions to help address concerns in their neighborhoods.

What inspired you to pursue a career in public safety? 

My inspiration to pursue a career in law enforcement came at 15 years old when my family home caught fire. The officers who responded to my burning house acted quickly and without hesitation. Their courageous acts and efforts to make my family safe and comfortable were second to none. Those officers made me realize that helping others and giving back to the community is the most selfless devotion one could do for another.

What do you think women contribute to this male-dominated industry?

Women bring a different perspective to the law enforcement field. Women see things differently and can provide a nurturing role when needed.

How has the Women in Blue Initiative (WLLE scholarships, SDPD’s Annual Women’s Hiring Expo, Women In Blue Luncheon, SDPD’s Quarterly Women’s Leadership Conference, SDPD’s Peer Mentoring Program) impacted you?

The Women in Blue initiative has been such a push for me personally, both mentally and physically. As a mother, wife, and officer, having the support of other female officers and seeing other women as leaders in this field is nothing short of inspiring.

If I want to physically be stronger, I have met women in this field who are willing to help train me. If I want to grow as a leader, I have met women here who will challenge me and provide me with real feedback. Not only is this a network, but it’s a family of women who want to see women be their best!

Tell us about a time when you were mentored or supported in your career. 

I have been mentored throughout every career. What sets this career apart, is that each of us, in some way, aims to be the “best us!” My most effective mentors have been those who are both honest and relatable. Our discussions have ranged from clear and concise communication to sharing practical tips, like a crockpot recipe, allowing me to fit in a workout before dinner. Most importantly, hearing some of their challenges has allowed me to set realistic goals and more importantly, realistic timelines.

This year’s theme is HERstory; what does that mean to you?

HERstory, to me, means it is our turn to create our memories. I control my future. My future as a leader, as an officer, as a mother, as a friend, and so forth. If I want to promote, it’s on me to do the work, if I want to run a half marathon, it’s on me to train.

I want to look back and one day say, “I wanted to do that, so I did!”

Can you share an example or experience that illustrates how Chief Albrektsen’s leadership has influenced your own leadership journey?

I met Chief Albrektsen at my first SDPD Women’s Leadership Conference when I was a new officer in the Department. I’ll never forget the level of confidence she brought to that room. The level of energy and strength with her words, it was like she captivated the audience with her stories and vision. Her clear and concise communication has made me want to be a better public speaker.

Chief Albrektsen has been an inspiration to many women in this department. I had heard that the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego was creating a Women’s Leadership forum, and it was without hesitation that I recommended she speak there. Not only does she mentor officers throughout the San Diego Police Department, but, with her words, she has the power to make those around her want to be better!

The 13th annual Women in Blue Luncheon: “HERstory,” honors Assistant Chief Sandra Albrektsen for her remarkable contributions to the Women in Blue Initiative and 41 years of service with the San Diego Police Department. The luncheon brings business and community leaders together to recognize the achievements of female leaders in the public safety sector and to celebrate gender diversity in an occupation traditionally pursued by men. Elevating inclusion, leadership, and the empowerment of women, the initiative propels the advancement and representation of women in policing.