CSULA Graduate Hopes To Be Top Cop

Norma Palacios

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Would you know what career option to focus on before attending high school or college? For CSULA graduate Lizeth Meza, the career option and discovery of law enforcement has been a desired path since the 4th grade.

A guest speaker had visited the school to discuss it further, and it began. Now, as she completes her degree in criminal justice during this Fall Quarter, it’s about looking to help others. Seeing the endless opportunities including, the Narcotics Unit or Probation Officer there are no limits to what can be accomplished. But there is something Meza sees within the field.

“You have to put others first,” Meza said, “before yourself.”

Part of the job is having reasons for having a search warrant.

“You have to proof your point,” she said. Same is true under the watchful eye of the public.

“With the growth of technology making an arrest is becoming harder,” she said. Basically, Meza said cops are looked at as gang members.

Seeing a Bigger Picture

As people continue to have unlimited access to technology, “Police are the victims in numerous situations,” she continued, “because they have to make decisions.”

Law enforcement is essential. Meza compares it to a well-known character.

“I see them as Batman, where it’s about keeping the peace,” she said. Wanting to keep the peace but lowering the crime rate is the means. Current cop shows don’t show the entire picture. Meza said, “It’s not glamorous all the time.”

Being a police officer means more.  “You’re building a bridge between you, she said, “and the community.”

Additionally, a person’s gender is a factor.

“Gender role does,” Meza said, “and doesn’t help.”

An example is when a suspect is taken into custody.

“When a male is making an arrest,” she said, “he’s not allowed to frisk a female without a female police officer present.”

The male officer will be faced with possible legal action. Female officers are subject to scrutiny. Where a woman can be important is in domestic violence situations, Meza said.

“A woman talking to another woman will feel safe,” she continued, “because they are there to help.”

Having Family Support Even with the Risks

Coming to a decision to focus on criminal justice and pursuing a career as a police officer, Meza said, “My mother thought I was going through a phase.”

For two years she was asked whether there was a change of heart. Realizing Meza didn’t change her career path, her mother saw determination.

“My mother said I was old enough,” she said, “to make my own decision.” Her father was shocked but with time both have been supportive. The second oldest of four children, Meza’s siblings intend to study other disciplines, such as biology, fire protection administration and technology and geology. She has their support. Younger brother Ivan Meza said Lizeth Meza’s goal of being a police officer should be commended.

“She made a commitment,” he said.

Ivan Meza, a fire protection administration and technology major and future CSULA student, said with his career option there was no hesitation. His aspirations began after writing a school report and watching footage of the Sept. 11, 2011 terror attacks.

“Looking at the faces of the firefighters, they were hiding their fear and were saving someone’s family,” Ivan Meza said.

“People were running away,” he said, “and the firefighters were going toward it.”

Ivan Meza continues his journey, after being inspired by the bravery and courage of 19 Arizona firefighters who died June 30th while battling a wildfire.

Despite the loss of lives, it hasn’t stopped him from being a firefighter. Both siblings understand danger is imminent. Lizeth Meza’s take, “You are risking your life.”

She has no fear of dying. “It’s God’s will,” she added. That’s not to say Ivan Meza doesn’t think of what could happen to his sister. Ultimately, he has faith.

The Training

Being set on a career goal Lizeth Meza is also planning on attending a police academy.

“You are being prepared mentally and physically,” she continued, “and I’m preparing myself for the rigorous experience.”

Ivan Meza doesn’t question his sister will be able to complete the training. There are two things Lizeth Meza has noted about training.

“The academy is a controlled environment,” she said, “but out on the street it’s an uncontrolled environment.”

Once you are a graduate of the police academy, and in the public eye, “A criminal will not care about your well-being,” Lizeth Meza said. Having knowledge, understanding and training is why the police academy is vital.

“If you can’t do it,” Lizeth Meza said, “then you’re not fit to do this job.”

According to a 2011 report by the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics, 12 percent are female police or sheriff patrol officers. Moreover, 16.7 percent are female detective and criminal investigators. Despite the low percentage, she said, “It’s just a matter of time.”

Without question, women will continue to make strides, and in the future U.S. with also elect its first female president

“Anything is possible,” Lizeth Meza said.

Perceptively, she holds out the likelihood of being part of the Anaheim Police Department. Its underlining purpose is helping others.Working with others is equally crucial.

“In a career like this, people like expectations,” Lizeth Meza said.

The Glendale Police Department is also on the list. At a recent orientation, she knows this much.

“It’s a long road,” she added, “but a rewarding one.”

A Look Ahead

During her studies, Lizeth Meza had to look at graphic images of dead bodies. Instructors had warned criminal justice majors. Students had a choice.

“If you couldn’t handle it you were able to walk out.”

Upon first reaction, she said, “Wow.” 

“I went home,” Lizeth Meza continued, “and thought about it.”

Not even graphic images could stop Meza’s motivation and desire. Instead they were enhanced. California is not the only place. She will seek opportunities in Florida. In fact, she’d embrace the scenery in order to see the difference between the West Coast and the East Coast. Although she never travelled to the Sunshine State, “I’d adjust to change.” Lizeth Meza would like to teach future criminal justice students one day. There are reasons.

“I’ll share my experience,” she continued, “and point of view.”

“The hope is students want to help his or her community,” Lizeth Meza said.

Even after retirement the hope is people will remember what she stood her. “When someone hear my name they say, “I want to be like her.”

In a sense, people saw an important quality, her work ethic. Basically, Lizeth Meza said, “I’ve gone above and beyond.”

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CSULA Graduate Hopes To Be Top Cop