USC alumna Alma Burke will serve as DPS’ first female Latina Assistant Police Chief next year.
“It gives us great pleasure to congratulate Alma Burke on her well-deserved appointment as Assistant Police Chief at USC,” tweeted the Los Angeles Women Police Officers & Associates on Nov. 25.
Burke’s 24 years of experience in law enforcement earned her the position, according to DPS Chief John Thomas. She has worked in a diverse range of neighborhoods in LA, and currently serves as the Sergeant II of Police at LAPD. She is also the president of LAPD’s Women’s Organization, which she said is the largest female organization in America.
“There really isn’t anything that I haven’t handled,” Burke said. “Whether it’s an active shooter or race tensions or community outreach programs, I think I bring so many different skills sets. It’s going to be a one-stop-shop with me—you’re going to get it all.”
Officer Thomas said that he is confident in Sgt. Burke’s ability to take on the role of assistant police chief because of her approachability and focus on building relationships with the community. He thinks she will be a key addition to the few high-ranking women in law enforcement across Southern California.
Burke feels that women are essential not just to law enforcement, but to the workforce as a whole.
“One of the things I think is really important that women bring is empathy and understanding,” Burke said. “We just have a different skill set that is important to any organization.”
Current Assistant Chief David Carlisle will retain his title, while the two split their duties. Carlisle will take over the administrative side while Burke will work strictly for operations.
Chief Thomas said Burke’s duties will consist of "oversight of all the patrol officers, all of the investigators, the functioning of the department, threat assessment, and special events like football games. Everything that has to do with the officers on patrol on campus and in the streets.”
Passionate about inclusivity and diversity, Burke wants to serve as an example for the next generation of students.
“When I got the position, it was just so overwhelming because you just open so many doors for other people to see you in that role,” she said. “I can do operations and police work blindfolded because it’s my passion, and I love doing it, but my true love is community.”
Thomas said he thinks Burke’s diverse background will help her better understand the communities she serves.
“Having a Latina, and someone who speaks Spanish and whose parents came here as immigrants, there’s a level of familiarity with the members of this community but also a level of familiarity with our students who are first-generation college educated,” Thomas said.
Burke said she is excited to get started because USC is full of passionate and driven students. She added she wants to bring her love of this community to her work.
“I am just excited about having an opportunity to be at USC. its been a dream come true,” Burke said. “You’re surrounded by such brilliant minds there. These are the people that are going to change the world, so I am just excited to be apart of that.”