After spending eight years traveling the world in the Army, Officer Stephanie Trujillo said Santa Barbara just feels like home.
“I’m pretty invested in this department. I moved here from Northern California, don’t have family here. But I made friends inside this department and outside the department who have become my family. In the six years that I’ve been here the department has been very welcoming,” said Officer Trujillo.
The Salinas native joined the Army at age 17 and served from 2008 to 2016. She was honorably discharged as a Military Police Sergeant and joined the Santa Barbara Police Department in 2014 while she was a member of the Army reserves.
“Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a police officer. I knew being military police would help me to be an officer and you can’t be a police officer until you’re 21 so it was a natural fit. My uncle was a (police) officer and he was really my role model. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t a police officer, it’s hard to imagine,” said Officer Trujillo.
The Army took her to bases all over the country and abroad to Germany and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
At the Guantanamo Bay detention center, Officer Trujillo served as a correctional guard at one of the detention facilities. She oversaw groups of 15 to 30 detainees from all over the world.
“I was military police all eight years, the transition from the military to police was somewhat easier. It also helped me because in the military I developed patience and personal communication skills. I had to. Also team-building skills which I was able to apply here. I think that’s why I’ve been fortunate enough to have been selected as a training officer these last two year,” said Officer Trujillo.
Part of her duties for the SBPD include educating recent police academy graduates on what it takes to be a police officer in Santa Barbara. The Field Training Program curriculum includes officer safety practices, handling calls for service appropriately, community engagement and familiarity with the layout of the city.
“Basically everything they need to be prepared to become a successful solo officer once they graduate the Field Training Program. It’s a six-month program, I’ll get a certain trainee for six weeks and then they’ll get transferred to another field training officer,” said Officer Trujillo.
“We don’t ride in partners here, unlike the bigger cities. We ride alone so we really need to make sure that we’re training these new officers to be safe and professional.”
Officer Trujillo said she reminds her trainees to have fun while they’re on the job and remember that the work they do is an important public service.
“Number one is always be safe but second is to have fun. One of the best parts of this profession is that we have our good days and bad days but as long as you have a good mindset going into each day you can really make a difference. On every call for service and in your department. It’s important to have fun and remember why we’re doing this job.
She added that the institutional support from department leadership and the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association has helped to provide officers with the tools and mental health resources to serve the community efficiently.