January 18, 2024 / News

HERstory: Sergeant Crystal Cisneros

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.

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

I joined the San Diego Police Department family in 1998 as a police cadet. I spent the next few years volunteering my time and learning everything I could about the department and a career in law enforcement. In 2002, I was hired as a police recruit and have been with the San Diego Police Department ever since.

What inspired you to pursue a career in public safety? What do you think women contribute to this male-dominated industry?

As a child, I knew I wanted to be a police officer. I looked up to all police officers and admired them for the work they did for the community. I was truly starstruck when on occasion I would see a female police officer. For me, a female officer represented strength, conviction, and a dream.

As women, we make the same contributions to this industry as men. We are equals in the work we do, in our ability to problem solve and get the job done. Where we as women make contributions is in shifting the norms and traditions. Traits traditionally associated with women such as kindness, empathy, and emotional intelligence have become sought-after and appreciated by both genders. Men are emboldened to embrace these traits and find a working balance.

How has the Women in Blue Initiative impacted you?

The WIB (Women in Blue) initiative has highlighted and empowered the contributions women make to this field. It encourages and supports me to be myself and embrace the qualities and traits I bring to the workplace.

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

While in the police academy, I was assigned a female officer as my mentor. My mentor had years of experience as an officer. I was a young female in a class overwhelmingly dominated by males. Having her as a mentor was encouraging and motivational. I saw her as a successful and accomplished career woman. I knew if she could succeed in this environment, so could I.

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

“HERstory” symbolizes a voice and a presence. It means I will be heard, and I will be valued. HERstory symbolizes a change in the traditional norm of police work.

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

I first met her (Chief Albrektsen) when she was Lieutenant Albrektsen in the Sex Crimes Unit. I remember seeing her walk into the office bursting with confidence, poise, class, and the cutest heels. She was kind and personable and a new type of leadership I had yet to experience in my career. It wasn’t long before she left and was promoted through the ranks. I admired her ability to balance a strong leadership role with family. Years later I worked for her again, this time as Chief Albrektsen. Her kindness, strength and personality were unwavering. It was an honor looking to her as a role model and an example of strong, exemplary leadership!

The 13th annual Women in Blue Luncheon: “HERstory,” honors Assistant Chief Sandra Albrektsen for her remarkable contributions to the Women in Blue Initiative and over 40 years of service with the San Diego Police Department. Join us on February 27, 2024, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

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.

To register or learn more, go to womeninblue.org. To register and pay by check, download the Women in Blue Pledge Form.