An often cited source of pride for Westchester residents has been the community’s ability to retain its small-town charm over years of rapid growth and development. This ability has been the result of the strong community involvement of not only its residents, but of local public entities, like the Los Angeles Police Department. Since the 1992 Civil Disturbance, LAPD has made community policing a priority. Community policing is about building and maintaining relationships and trust between the Department and the diverse communities in Los Angeles. Here in Westchester, we are pleased to welcome the newest Senior Lead Officer for East Westchester, Sophia Castaneda.
Officer Castaneda is no stranger to the Westside. Having served in the Pacific Division for 17 years, she brings years of experience to her new role where she will be acting as one of our community liaisons to the police force and working with local residents to address quality of life issues.
Castaneda grew up in San Bernardino. Both her father and brother served and had careers in the military, which helped to shape her interests and career goals. Before joining the LAPD, Castaneda herself seriously considered following in the footsteps of her family and joining the military.
Her interest in law enforcement further developed while she spent considerable time with friends who joined the police force. She even asked and had the opportunity to participate in ride-alongs with local officers. Once an official member of LAPD, she rose in rank while working in probation, vice, beach patrol, and most recently, community relations and youth services, the latter which includes coordination of the popular cadet program*.
Castaneda assumed her current position as Senior Lead Officer last November, and has been working “the Hill” with veteran Officer Ruben Garcia, Senior Lead for Westchester (West of Sepulveda) and Playa Del Rey.
“Westchester has been a great place to work,” says Castaneda. “I love the fact that it is so diverse here – so many walks of life, so many different groups, not just a certain socio-economic class of people. And then to see these groups integrate and thrive, especially with the younger people, has been incredible.”
Castaneda also emphasized the importance of community involvement. In particular, she encourages local residents to become actively engaged in their communities, get to know their Senior Lead Officers, and learn what’s going on. One avenue for engagement is through Neighborhood Watch, which provides an excellent opportunity for neighbors to get to know one another and help improve the safety of the neighborhoods. She encourages anyone who is interested in joining or starting a new chapter to contact her directly.
Officer Castaneda can be reached by phone at 310-622-3976 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*LMU has been working closely with LAPD to start a cadet program on its campus. For more information, visit http://publicsafety.lmu.edu/about/dpscadetprogram/ .