Alpine resident and San Diego Regional Public Safety Training Institute Academy coordinator Esmeralda Tagabon will be honored at the 10th annual Women in Blue luncheon Thursday, March 19, in San Diego. A statement from the San Diego Police Department describes the three women being honored, including Tagabon, as trailblazers in nontraditional careers.
Sgt. Tagabon said she is very fortunate to serve in law enforcement and be training a new generation of officers who will be out in the field.
“Being a female in law enforcement is a wonderful challenge. Women are traditionally smaller in stature and, especially when we are out in the field with a male partner, we have to think differently. Nobody wants to get into a fight but when you’re physically smaller you really learn how to use your brain, your verbal skills. You learn how to talk to someone and get the information you need to get the job done without a physical confrontation,” Tababon said.
Since 2018 she has worked as an academy coordinator with recruits of all law enforcement agencies throughout San Diego County and says she asks herself every day, “How do I improve our processes so our recruits are out there doing what they need to be doing?”
Tagabon says she tells all recruits to reject the status quo, to always be on the lookout for how they can improve a situation. One recent change made by Tagabon involves using online templates she says she implemented in place of frequently filed reports in an effort to better utilize time.
The 19-year veteran sergeant says although she primarily works with training new recruits at this point in her career, she actively stays out in the field to keep her skills current.
One focus she maintains is the drive to streamline information as advances in technology affect law enforcement practices.
“There’s been a drastic change in law enforcement in recent years with technology and reporting, what society demands of us. Some of it is very beneficial: the body-worn cameras encourage both sides to behave. Reporting also takes so much longer these days, journaling, filing reports, entering information. There is so much required.”
Tagabon said she is most proud of her ongoing goal to consistently break the glass ceiling and that she has gone out of her way to serve in units women sometimes shy away from entering.
“I’ve worked in undercover narcotics, gang investigations and suppression — we have a lot to contribute in a male-dominated arena,” Tagabon said.
She encourages young girls who are interested in law enforcement to pursue that path and describes the field as one that offers exciting challenges on a daily basis.
Tagabon says she is always outdoors, constantly stimulated by the mental challenges at work, gets to meet different people every day at work. She says the best part is the mental stimulation involved with resolving complicated situations.
“I love my job. When you intervene in a traumatic situation, remove someone from danger — I don’t know what winning the Lotto feels like but it is probably something like this, the euphoria of helping someone and knowing you’ve broken the cycle,” Tagabon said.
She says the camaraderie and friendships she has found in law enforcement are like nothing else and they have consistently encouraged her to keep reaching for her goals.
“Law enforcement is…”
Her voice trails off for a moment.
“You don’t do it because of the awards. You do it because it is a calling. I think about those people I’ve helped and I know I’ve done the right thing.”