Q: Tell me about your job.
A: I’m actually between jobs right now, but usually I’m a probation officer and investigator. I’m also a professional model.
Q: A model?
A: Yes. I started freelancing at 17. Since then I’ve done hundreds of photo shoots.
Q: What kind of things have you modeled for?
A: I’m all over the place. I’ve primarily shot fashion and beauty work for designers or shot commercials for large companies. (You may recognize me from a Google or a Motorola ad.)
Q: It seems like it could be grueling to stand, smiling, for long periods of time.
A: I did a shoot for an app one time — I was in the War Dragons game — I’m the female warrior with the sword. For that shoot, I was on set for twelve hours and was throwing a sword around; I couldn’t move the next day.
And yes — it’s both physically and mentally demanding as a job. You have to maintain unnatural body positions and expressions for long periods of time. Most people don’t realize what one image in a magazine usually entails — hundreds of alterations, lighting revisions, garment adjustments…
Q: What’s the overlap like — doing both modeling and law enforcement?
A: I try to keep my worlds separate, for a few reasons.
I have no problem talking about my law enforcement job on modeling sets, and I often disclose that info as a way to filter creeps. On the other hand, I try my best to keep the modeling low-profile when I’m doing law enforcement work. My focus is on my clients, and I try to make sure their focus is on their recovery and themselves, and not on me.
Q: What is the probation officer job like?
A: It’s kind of like a cross between psychotherapist and cop. I do a lot of one-on-one counseling with people, case monitoring, report-writing, and general chaos-taming.
When I interviewed for the job they asked me, “If you have to send someone with a family back to jail, would you lose sleep over it?"
Q: And what did you say?
A: “No.” And I knew, because I had already done it in the past.
It’s another conversation about how incarceration disrupts communities; however, if we don’t adhere to our own systems, the result is that people recognize opportunities in the inconsistencies, and they adapt to evade consequences.
Q: It sounds like a challenging job.
A: It’s pretty emotionally-demanding work — you have to be in it for the right reasons. Some days are tougher than others because of the extreme workload. I get frustrated when it seems like things might fall through the cracks because there’s too much going on.
Your decisions have impact, though, and that’s what keeps me at it. I recognize I’m in a position where sometimes I will be there at what is the most critical point in a person’s life.
Q: It seems like it takes a certain kind of person to be able to handle this job. Can I ask what your upbringing was like?
A: Challenging, for many reasons. But one example stands out.
When I was nine or so, a new landlord bought our mobile home park. Tenants, mostly fixed-income and elderly, were bullied. Rents skyrocketed. We found out why — for each tenant forced out, an empty home could be cleared to build a profitable condo in place. Suddenly, 50 residents were about to lose everything they had.
My mother, a single woman with no college or law degree and two small children, decided to take on one of the most rich and powerful individuals in our city on behalf of our neighbors. For years, I would pick up the phone to lawyers and councilmembers, and watch her pore over legal research.
She won the lawsuit.
It wasn’t until I was older that I watched Erin Brockovich and realized I had essentially been raised by her.
Q: Wow. How did you start working in law enforcement then?
A: Honestly, TV shows like CSI initially got me interested, and areas like abnormal psychology hooked me, so in college I pursued a B.A. in Criminal Justice.
I first started doing house arrest monitoring, which I did for a while before becoming a parole officer.
Q: What was it like to monitor people under house arrest?
A: Every day I had to analyze tens of thousands of data points and movement reports in order to determine what our clients were up to.
It sounds tame, but it was like a reality TV show every day. We were always having problems with outside visitors shooting up in the building bathroom, or clients trying to hack their monitoring equipment.
Q: What is an ankle bracelet like?
A: Imagine an old Nokia phone or pager attached to rubber straps. One of my old clients would refer to hers as “her VCR.” Not attractive!
Most house arrest and GPS bracelets use GPS or radio frequency technology, and others test blood alcohol level through the skin.
Q: Wow, I didn’t realize the government could test your alcohol level.
A: It’s usually a condition of release as part of an alcohol-related offense, such as in a case with a history of DUIs.
Q: How would you do if you had to wear a bracelet?
A: I’m a homebody, so house arrest wouldn’t be hard! I’ve had to test all the bracelets out as part of training and can certainly say that some are uncomfortable.
Fun fact: women are more likely to have a harder time with fit because we have more changes in the swelling in our ankles.
Q: I can imagine. What do your friends think of your law enforcement job?
A: My friends at home make fun of me sometimes, saying things like, “Put away the weed, the cop is here.”
On the other hand, virtually everyone in L.A. works in entertainment, so I’m a bit of a unicorn there. Having a Hollywood actress turn to you just to start gushing about how fascinated and jealous she is about your law enforcement career is a truly hilarious and humanizing experience.