Shaping a Diverse and Inclusive Future for the San Diego Police Department

Women in Blue

In the realm of law enforcement, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) stands out as a model of progress. With a commitment to gender diversity, SDPD is setting a powerful example for police departments across the nation. The Women in Blue initiative plays a pivotal role in achieving this transformative vision.


“The needle is moving,” stated Sara Napoli, President, and CEO of the San Diego Police Foundation. “Since the inception of the Women in Blue initiative, SDPD has increased the number of females sworn to nearly 17% and as a result, exceeds the national average of 12%. Yet, more effort and awareness are needed to achieve gender parity as police departments operate best when they reflect the communities they serve.”

A longstanding initiative of the San Diego Police Foundation, Women in Blue was created to promote diversity and elevate inclusion by recognizing the achievements of female leaders in the public safety sector and celebrating women who excel in an occupation traditionally pursued by men.
To further this cause, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit has pledged to achieve 30% women recruits in training academies by 2030 as part of the 30×30 Pledge, a national movement to advance the representation of women in all ranks of policing. In the fiscal year ending June 2023, 23% of the individuals enrolled in SDPD training academies were female.

The annual Women in Blue luncheon serves as the signature event of the initiative, elevating awareness of the importance of increased gender diversity in policing. In 2024, Assistant Chief Sandra Albrektsen will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
As the highest-ranking female officer at SDPD with over 40 years of service, Chief Albrektsen oversees K9, SWAT, helicopters (ABLE), Data Services, Critical Incident Management and Operational Support, which supplies all equipment for officers. She also teaches Human Relations and Legal and is the Subject Matter Expert for Training and Development.


The Women in Blue initiative provides funding for training, mentoring, collaboration and networking opportunities for aspiring female leaders in law enforcement with proceeds from the luncheon. Programs funded include:

The Rita Olson Legacy Scholarship, presented at the annual luncheon, supports rising female leaders at SDPD, enabling them to pursue higher education and advanced training.
Scholarships are provided for female personnel to attend the annual Women Leaders in Law Enforcement (WLLE) Conference, offering valuable opportunities for them to learn from their peers, acquire credentials for advanced assignments and grow professionally.
SDPD’s Quarterly Women’s Leadership Conference connects sworn and civilian female professionals, facilitating mentorship, camaraderie and career development.
The Women’s Hiring Expo invites prospective candidates to learn about the hiring process, police academy demands, and various career paths available within SDPD. The Expo is a successful recruitment method; the most recent event led to 22% of attendees applying to the academy within 24 hours.
San Diego is leading the way in building a more diverse and inclusive future for its police department, and the Women in Blue initiative serves as a powerful reminder that progress is possible through dedication and community support.
Community members are invited to celebrate Assistant Chief Sandra Albrektsen at the 13th Annual Women in Blue Luncheon on February 27, 2024, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

For information about this event or to make a donation to honor our women in blue, visit

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Esteban Villanueva