The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Valerie Cox: To be Black and Blue

Graphic made using by Casey Rafter/[email protected]

The sun is still rising at 6:50 a.m. As the police captain exits her car, she notices how quiet it is on campus. Coffee in hand, she walks into Folsom Lake College’s campus police building and greets the patrol officer who’s finishing the graveyard shift he began the night before. After completing her morning routine she finishes checking emails; the captain exits the building. She walks to her assigned police vehicle and starts patrolling the campus. 

Valerie Cox, a police captain for the Los Rios Police Department, has been working with the department for 28 years.

“I was always interested in people and how to make people’s lives better,” said Cox.

According to Cox, she’s a people person who loves her job. While she has been challenged with obstacles in the past, she says she hasn’t quite run into anything like the adversity that has presented itself as a result of COVID-19. But she has been taking necessary precautions since the campus closures started last March.

“We’ve made adjustments on how we schedule [within the police department]. And, as a captain, one of my highest priorities is to ensure my officers are safe,” said Cox. “So it’s important that we’re always wearing masks, sanitize and wash our hands. Overall, I feel like we’ve tried to be very conscientious about maintaining our protocol and making sure we keep ourselves safe.”

Cox said that she has found it important, as a captain, to be able to manage people in her department. This is part of the reason she decided to get an MBA in business management with an emphasis in human resources from the University of Phoenix.

Cox also has a bachelor’s degree in English with a teaching emphasis from UC Davis. She said the knowledge she gained while earning that degree helps her effectively communicate with people and with writing police reports. Cox says now, more than ever, it’s important for her to maintain excellent communication with her staff and the public. 

“I believe that in this environment that we’re working in right now, that it’s more important than ever that police are willing to have a dialogue with the community that we serve,” Cox said. “And I believe communication is the key to breaking down barriers and potentially building bridges.”

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Cox is one of two Black women who have served as Los Rios police captains. While she’s proud of her representation, Cox recognizes that there should be more diversity in law enforcement.

“I believe we need to see more women in law enforcement and, more importantly, women of color,” Cox said. “When I started, I didn’t understand that I would be underrepresented. You just didn’t see very many Black women choose law enforcement as a career.”

Cox began her career with the Los Rios Police Department as an officer at American River College in 1992. She was later promoted to sergeant, then to captain. She held several positions in the dept throughout the district. She is currently assigned as captain at both Folsom and City College. Sometimes duties overlap and she captains both colleges.

Cox recalled that the possibility of pursuing a career in law enforcement arose during a discussion with a high school counselor. The counselor urged Cox, who had participated in student government since middle school, to consider the field because she was good at working with people. 

“I was always interested in people and how to make their lives better,” said Cox, who likes to encourage people interested in careers in law enforcement. “There are so many different forms of law enforcement that you can get into. You can work in educational law enforcement like myself, maybe federal agencies or state agencies. Look at the opportunities that are out there. Don’t give up; have faith in yourself.”

Cox was born in Oklahoma and raised in Reno, Nevada, the oldest of four children. Her mother was a single parent and always encouraged her children to pursue education beyond high school. According to Cox, her mother was very influential and taught Cox to look beyond boundaries placed by society. 

“My mom always told me that I could do whatever it is I wanted to do,” said Cox, the only member of her family to work as an officer. “It never occurred to me that law enforcement wasn’t something I could do.”

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