First Peace Officer Department Names First Female Police Chief

Police2Peace Peace Officer Program launched in 2018 with Redlands Police Department bears fruit as Rachel Tolber is named the first female police chief.

In The Know NGO

June 27, 2023 Policing in America is changing in important ways for more peaceful outcomes, according to the 501 (c)(3) organization Police2Peace.  Its national ‘Peace Officer’ program is being used by departments around the nation to help navigate the changing public safety landscape and alleviate tensions with their communities. 

The first ‘Peace Officer’ police department was the Redlands (CA) Police Department.  Having earned national attention many times over the years including the 2015 RISE Award for Agency of the Year from TASER and PoliceOne, the 2016 International Association of Chiefs of Police Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement Research and the 2018 California Police Chiefs Association & Motorola Excellence in Technology, Redlands undertook the ‘Peace Officer’ program with decals on vehicles in 2018.  And five years later, Redlands named its first female police chief, Rachel Tolber.

“It’s unsurprising that such a forward-thinking agency like Redlands would appoint Chief Rachel Tolber,” said Police2Peace Executive Director Lisa Broderick.  “Women police chiefs exhibit transformational leadership styles which emphasize collaboration, empathy, and relationship-building. This leadership approach is foundational to the ‘Peace Officer’ program and vital to the future of policing in this country.”

Other police industry initiatives also seek to address the need to transform policing by promoting female police chiefs, including the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE) with its 30×30 initiative.  The 30×30 initiative is a concerted effort aimed at increasing the representation and influence of women in law enforcement leadership positions, specifically targeting the appointment of female police chiefs. The initiative’s name stems from the goal of achieving a minimum of 30% women police chiefs by the year 2030.

Tolber, a dedicated member of the Redlands team since 1998, holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from the University of Redlands. She furthered her education with a master’s degree in criminology from the University of Irvine and another master’s degree in applied criminology from the esteemed University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Now serving as the chief of police, Tolber aims to enhance recruitment strategies and fostering stronger community connections. She recognizes the community’s expectation for a chief who prioritizes public safety, delivers exceptional service, and cultivates meaningful relationships with all community partners.

“There are so many reasons why Rachel Tolber is perfect in this role,” said Jim Bueermann, former Chief of Police at Redlands and past president of the National Police Foundation, now called the National Policing Institute.  “Rachel places a strong emphasis on community engagement and building trust with the public, including employing strategies like community-oriented policing, problem-solving and partnerships with community organizations.  She will no doubt combine her skills and experience to deliver rightful policing.”  

While contemplating the essential qualities of the role, Tolber took a moment to share her insights, influenced by one of her mentors, retired police Chief Jim Bueermann. Drawing from Bueermann’s wisdom, she emphasized the importance of  policing which is “effective, empathetic and just” in the delivery of policing. Tolber believes that these attributes are key to fostering a harmonious and compassionate approach to law enforcement.

Earlier this year, Police2Peace launched its virtual training platform called “Peace Officer:  Realizing the True Purpose of Policing”.  Using this platform, every policing agency in the nation can receive training and certification in the mental model of ‘peace officer’ by embracing the idea that policing is about what works for everyone—the cops, the elected and appointed officials, and the community.

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Police2Peace is an organization addressing the issue for our time: reimagining the relationship that communities have with the police. A national, nonpartisan nonprofit bringing a new approach to community-led policing to cities around the country, Police2Peace is using the framework of police officers as Peace Officers to redefine, reimagine and advance policing nationally.

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