For Christina Corpus, being a lady in regulation enforcement has been a problem for the reason that starting.
Throughout one among her first shifts as a newly minted correctional officer, a veteran deputy pulled her apart. In line with Corpus, he requested her what she was doing there, including, “You have to be barefoot and pregnant within the kitchen.”
She was shocked. However she saved her frustration to herself.
“I did not say something. I did not go to HR. I used to be model new,” she mentioned. Had she spoken up, she believes there would have been repercussions. “I might have most likely needed to go away the group. We’ve to interrupt that—that stigma of ‘you higher not say something.'”
On reflection, that interplay set the tone for a lot of what was to return all through her profession.
“I knew that I wasn’t going to have it simple,” she mentioned.
Now a sheriff’s captain and chief of police for town of Millbrae, Corpus has launched a contentious bid to unseat her boss, Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, who was elected in 2018.
Championing transparency, group engagement and inclusivity, Corpus hopes to redefine policing within the county—each for the residents and for the officers themselves.
“I am working as a result of we undoubtedly want change,” she mentioned. “I am the primary feminine candidate in San Mateo County historical past to run for sheriff. And if I am elected, I might be the primary Latina sheriff of the entire state of California.”
Corpus knew that, as for any candidate, working for workplace can be dangerous. However campaigning in opposition to her present boss, Bolanos, who has been sheriff since 2017, has introduced its personal distinctive challenges, she mentioned—particularly as a result of a lot of her platform is a direct problem to his management.
Although reluctant to criticize him straight, Corpus mentioned she wish to see extra efforts in direction of growing transparency and facilitating relationships between the sheriff’s workplace and the communities it serves. Referring to the Sheriff’s Office Police Transparency Portal printed earlier this 12 months, Corpus mentioned that she finds it to be extra of an information aggregator that lacks element and would not inform the total story.
“Actions converse louder than buzzwords … And accountability begins on the high,” she mentioned
Along with increasing the portal, Corpus mentioned she needs to determine a Sheriff’s Workplace Group Advisory Board to facilitate extra group oversight of regulation enforcement actions. Emphasizing the significance of together with a variety of stakeholder views, she has proposed bringing in representatives from the northern, southern and coastal areas of the county.
She’s responding, partially, to larger requires transparency among the many county’s residents. As an illustration, Fixin’ San Mateo County, an area group working to create civilian oversight of the sheriff’s workplace and set up a county inspector basic, launched its marketing campaign on March 26. Whereas Corpus mentioned she understands the reasoning behind their work, she hopes her advisory board could also be a method to collaborate straight with the residents.
Considered one of Fixin’ San Mateo County’s major priorities is completely ending the voluntary launch of immigrants to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. In her official priorities, Corpus mentioned she would “completely finish informal hand-overs of people to ICE.” Nonetheless, in her platform she advocates for “reviewing immigration requests on a case-by-case foundation” and says she would solely flip folks over to ICE in the event that they “pose a transparent and imminent risk to our group’s security.”
Corpus can be well-aware of the optics round regulation enforcement lately. She believes that inadequate psychological well being providers — each for officers and for residents — is a part of the issue.
Pointing to a scarcity of wellness providers and a tradition “the place we’ve got to be robust,” Corpus mentioned she believes a lot of the turnover within the sheriff’s workplace is the results of folks feeling underappreciated. And that mentality has an have an effect on on their capability to have interaction and construct belief with the group.
Constructing higher relationships with the group additionally requires acknowledging that “our world has modified and regulation enforcement has modified,” she mentioned. For Corpus, meaning recruiting extra folks of colour to the sheriff’s workplace, specializing in de-escalation and non-violent options and higher responding to psychological well being crises.
Corpus knew she wished to work in regulation enforcement since she was 16, when a harrowing expertise modified her perspective of public security — and the trajectory of her life.
She was selecting up a buddy after work in San Bruno when somebody tapped on her window.
“I seemed and it was the barrel of a gun,” she mentioned.
She managed to carry off her attacker, who hit her with the gun and tried pushing her farther into the automotive.
“At 16, it was a really traumatic scenario,” she mentioned. However much more so than the horror of the ordeal itself, Corpus was struck by the aftermath. “It was the way in which that these officers that responded and helped me navigate by means of the report … actually modified the way in which that I considered regulation enforcement.
“I believed if I might try this, and I might give again to communities which are in want, that will be life-changing for me.”
Corpus started her profession as a caseworker with the county district lawyer’s workplace in 1995, occurring to turn into an entry-level correctional officer at Maguire in 2002. It was a rocky begin for a younger lady in a predominantly male area. However Corpus did not solely have bother with the male officers. She remembers being teased and harassed by different feminine correctional officers as nicely, one thing she attributes to a tradition that denigrated ladies.
“There have been instances the place I might go house, and I might cry. And I might be like, ‘Why am I doing this?'” she mentioned. She puzzled if it was price it, if she’d ever be accepted. “I at all times walked into the jail with my head up excessive. And at all times put a courageous face on. But it surely examined my religion. And it additionally examined my energy.”
In line with statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Uniform Crime Reporting Program, as of 2018 solely 26.7% of all regulation enforcement staff and 12.6% of all officers had been ladies, although ladies represented virtually 51% of the inhabitants of the U.S. At present, slightly below 30% of the 773 employees of the sheriff’s workplace are ladies.
Pushed by a want to serve her group and repair what she believed was damaged, Corpus stayed with the sheriff’s workplace, occurring to work within the Corrections Bureau and Skilled Requirements, the place she first received concerned in hiring processes.
It wasn’t till she was promoted to a deputy sheriff in 2005 that Corpus began to note a shift in how her fellow officers handled her. A lady, and one of many solely Spanish-speaking patrol deputies on the time, she was usually assigned to work in North Honest Oaks, a predominantly Latino neighborhood.
“When you’ve got a commonality with any person, folks really feel extra comfortable with you. So, I seemed just like the folks in North Honest Oaks. I used to be a Spanish-speaking deputy, they usually resonated with me. So I used to be capable of actually achieve their belief,” she mentioned.
“And that is sort of how I began to achieve the respect of my friends, which had been all males,” she mentioned.
By means of her work as a deputy and later director of the Group Alliance to Revitalize Our Neighborhoods (CARON), Corpus received a window into community-based policing, which she described as “being extra concerned within the communities” and “going away from that warrior mentality to a guardian.” By means of group occasions, equivalent to basketball video games, barbecues and different efforts, she mentioned she was capable of construct relationships and belief with the native residents.
After finishing a grasp’s diploma in regulation enforcement and public security management on the College of San Diego, Corpus reached what she referred to as a “crossroads” in her profession.
“I spotted that we’d like change. I spotted that there is a lack of group engagement, that there is a higher manner of executing our regulation enforcement,” she mentioned. “If we’re not asking folks what’s incorrect within the particular communities, then how are we alleged to correctly ship these sources and our providers to them?”
Figuring out that doing so might threaten, and probably finish, her profession, Corpus mentioned she determined to launch her marketing campaign for sheriff final July.
“I feel now is a chance for the voters of this county to have a voice and to essentially have a alternative who they need as their subsequent sheriff — and the values that align with them,” she mentioned.
Corpus, who described her platform as one constructed on bringing trendy concepts and practices to the sheriff’s workplace, feels the pressure of pushing in opposition to custom—and campaigning in opposition to her present boss.
“It has been very uncomfortable for me. And it isn’t been a straightforward highway in any respect,” she mentioned.
Responding to a current article that outed her husband for having a tattoo of a accomplice flag, Corpus described it as “mudslinging” and a distraction from the bigger points.
“All people’s centered on a tattoo that my husband received when he was 16. He realized that it was hurtful and he lined it up,” she mentioned. “It is a smear marketing campaign. Why aren’t folks asking the sheriff about issues which have occurred beneath his management?”
In an Instagram submit, Bolanos criticized the tattoo calling it a “signal of racism and white supremacy.”
“It’s frankly surprising that Christina Corpus would attempt to faux that the Accomplice flag has one other that means than precisely what it’s – an indication of racism and white supremacy,” Bolanos mentioned in his submit. “It is much less shocking that she would attempt to forged blame on others in gentle of this revelation.”
She additionally denied being a lifelong Republican, saying, “I had a distinction of opinion for just a few years, however I at all times aligned myself as a Democrat.”
Touting endorsements from the San Mateo County Democratic Celebration, in addition to State Sen. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park, and Meeting member Kevin Mullin, Corpus mentioned she hopes in the end her popularity will converse for itself. However, with solely weeks left earlier than the first, she is aware of she has a tricky tough forward.
“I’ll both proceed being an worker right here and can turn into sheriff in January or, if I’m not profitable, I should retire.”
Corpus was set to face opponent Sheriff Carlos Bolanos in a candidate discussion board on Might 12 however Bolanos pulled out.
San Mateo County’s subsequent sheriff shall be decided by voters in the course of the June 7 election.
Learn the voter information story on Carlos Bolanos here.