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First Female Captain Would Rather Focus on the Job

Police Chief John Welter congratulations Brewer on her promotion

Belinda Brewer officially started her job last week as Anaheim PD’s first female captain in the department’s 140-year history.

But don’t mention that to her. She’d rather talk about the accomplishments and hard work that earned her that rank, or explain why the Anaheim PD is so special.

Brewer became one of the department’s captains at the relatively young age of 47. An Anaheim PD officer for 17 years, she now oversees the Operations Support Division, which includes the traffic division and dispatch.

We caught up with Brewer during an especially busy week.

Q. The department didn’t make a big deal about you being Anaheim PD’s first
female captain, but the media picked up on it. What’s your take on the distinction?

A. Although I certainly appreciate the historical significance of my appointment, I believe that when gender or race is highlighted, the hard work, accomplishments and ability to do the job are marginalized. 

Q. Chief Welter said your appointment is a sign of how far law enforcement has come. As somebody who started her law enforcement career in the mid-1980s, how do you view the role women play in policing and police management? 

A. The role of women in policing and police management is no different. The men and women of the Anaheim PD all experience the pains and rewards an officer is exposed to during their career.

Brewer's niece pins her captain's bars

Different perspectives, whether caused by gender, race or even something as simple as experience level, add to the dialogue and provide for the best opportunity for good decisions and choices in any collaborative environment.

Q. What do you want to accomplish in your new role?
A. I want be part of an effective management team that guides Anaheim PD through the budget crisis we face and insures that we as an organization deliver the same high quality of service that our community deserves.
I hope that we accomplish this while maintaining our strong reputation and our leadership role within the Orange County law enforcement community.
Q. What’s been your favorite assignment as a police officer?  

A. Being an investigator on the Major Narcotics Unit. I really enjoyed the cases and the camaraderie. We traveled all over the state and sometimes across the country to complete cases and make large narcotic seizures. It was a lot of fun.

Q. And your most challenging assignment? 
A. Starting up the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center. This was a task force in which I had to manage staff from several agencies and develop objectives, policies and procedures that met the expectations of all the participating agencies while not conflicting with the federal law enforcement programs also under development.

Q. What do you see as Anaheim PD’s biggest strengths?  
A. Collaboration and teamwork. I am always proud to see how effectively our officers and staff rise to any challenge. Whether it’s a planned event at one of our many venues, or a fire in the canyons, we get the job done professionally while working well with other city departments and outside law enforcement agencies.

Q. In which areas can the department improve?  
A. It’s human nature to be resistant to change, and the employees at Anaheim PD have faced some significant changes during the last year due to the budget problems impacting all city services.

We need to improve communication about the changes; understand that the actions were difficult but necessary, and then let our strengths, collaboration and team work, take over and get the job done.   

Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?
A. Right here at Anaheim PD. I have never regretted my decision to come to Anaheim, and I see myself completing a 30- to 35-year career right here.  As for my rank, I will compete for future opportunities, but I am very proud to serve as a captain and will be just as proud to retire as one too. 

Q. How about the Anaheim PD? Where do you see it in five years?
A. I see us recovering from the budget problems that the economy has created and continuing our leadership in the areas of Homeland Security, Problem Oriented Policing, and making our community the safest place possible.

I see continual opportunities to expand on our use of technology to improve all of our services, but especially in the areas of proactive policing and investigative strategies. 
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
A. Beginning as a patrol officer here, I have made friends and shared experiences that have been absolutely outstanding. In each new assignment I have enjoyed the challenges and the successes because they have been shared with great people. This is truly a great department to work at because of the people and the opportunities we are given.