Cadet College Night Shows Path to Law-Enforcement Career

PAL cadets, their families, and speakers at the first annual Cadet College Night.

College Night host, Former Police Chief Tony Ribera, with Jim Conners, Department Chair of the Administrative Justice Program at City College.

The cadets who attended the College Night.

PAL held its first College Night to introduce cadets to local college programs specializing in law enforcement — and by all accounts, it was a big hit.

The event, held on January 13, 2011, focused on programs offered by the University of San Francisco and City College of San Francisco. Both colleges offer degrees in law enforcement leadership and criminal justice.

The night was hosted by Retired San Francisco Chief of Police Tony Ribera, who heads the Business and Professional Studies at USF. Ribera wrote the original curriculum for the school’s law enforcement leadership program.

Ribera described the gathering as “quite a good crowd,” and said about 50 cadets and their parents attended.

“We had very positive feedback — from the kids themselves and very positive from parents,” he said.

Ribera said there is currently a push at the San Francisco Police Department Police to get police cadets to enroll in the local law enforcement programs and thus foster a more highly educated police force.

Traditionally, many police officers skipped college and went right into the department after high school. Ribera said it was not unusual to find police officers in their 30s and 40s attending night school to make up for the college education they missed in their 20s.

But with such a wealth of law enforcement programs in the Bay Area, it makes sense for cadets to take advantage of the higher-education options first, and focus on a job once they have nailed a degree.

Ribera said there has been talk at the SFPD of creating a program similar to ROTC where cadets could go through a four-year program at City College and USF, get a bachelor’s degree, and then have an opportunity in law enforcement.

Dan Lawson, retired SFPD captain, now executive director/chief of USF police, told cadets there are three things they need to know:  how to be a critical thinker, how to create positive relationships, and how to work collaboratively. Lawson is a former cadet and talked about how education helped him in his work.

Other speakers included SFPD Commander David Lazar, Captain Louis Cassanego (Ingleside station), Jim Connors, director of administration of justice for City College, and Carol Taylor, associate director of advising and outreach at USF.

Former PAL Cadet Captain Lizzie Perez found the event useful and inspirational. “I took that in, when I was there and listening to them, a light bulb went off.  That’s what I need to do to get into USF and hopefully eventually the SFPD.  I’ve already contacted a City College counselor.”

Said Perez, “I didn’t know what my options were before.  Now I know what I need do.”

PAL Executive Director Lorraine Woodruff-Long said the cadets received good advice not only on the importance of college before a career in law enforcement, but also on the importance of ongoing education.

The City College and USF program have been running for many years, but Ribera said cadets are not always aware of them. The College Night is one way to increase awareness.

PAL hopes to make the College Night an annual event.

Apply Now for 2011 Summer Cadet Academy

PAL is recruiting for this summer’s PAL Summer Cadet Academy. The Academy is an intensive four-week program that runs from June 13 to July 8, 2011. Successful graduates will be eligible for a 10-hour per month internship at a SFPD police station or bureau, and meet year-round at the Academy for continuing training.

The PAL Summer Cadet Academy gives participants a glimpse of life as a San Francisco police officer.  Academy instructors teach cadets many police procedures, including traffic stops, radio codes, and ethical conduct.

“My goal for them, if they want to be police offices, is to really grasp what we do,” said Officer Amanda Kabanuck, who has been working with the cadets since last summer and is supervising internships at the Ingleside station.

Service is a big component of the PAL Cadet program.  Cadets help out at events such as the Bayview Magic Backpack Giveaway, community safety events, and even the World Series ticker tape parade!

Applicants must be:

  • At least 14 years old (and no older than 19 as of 6/13/2011)
  • Have completed their first year of high school
  • Have and maintain a 2.0 grade point average
  • Reside in or attend school in San Francisco

The PAL Summer Cadet Academy application can be found at or email Lorraine Woodruff-Long or call 401-4669 for more information.  Applications and recommendations must be received by April 22, 2011.

PAL Teams Up with Ragnar to Host Napa Valley Relay Race

PAL has joined forces with Ragnar Relay Series to host a 187-mile relay race from San Francisco to Napa Valley on September 16-17, 2011. PAL was chosen as the official charity for the two-day event. This means PAL will provide volunteers, promotional help and race support. In turn, Ragnar will donate $300 to PAL whenever teams register using the promo code NV11PAL.

Teams are already forming, including one headed by PAL President Rick Bruce. The deadline to register your team is August 24, 2011.

Teams of racers will journey through the wine country of Northern California, beginning in San Francisco and ending in Calistoga. Runners start at the Marina Green on the San Francisco Bay, cross the Golden Gate Bridge, wind their way through Marin toward Petaluma, then cross to Sonoma, Napa, and finally the finish line in Calistoga.

“San Francisco PAL is incredibly grateful to have the support of Ragnar,” said Lorraine Woodruff-Long, executive director of PAL. “Our partnership with Ragnar Relay Napa Valley will not only generate significant fundraising dollars, but also further our mission of providing healthy recreation and leadership activities for San Francisco youth.”

Carly Raska, Napa Valley race director for Ragnar Relay, said the selection of PAL reflects the organization’s emphasis on health and fitness, as well as its love of youth sports. “We enjoy opening up our Ragnar community to great organizations like SF PAL that make a difference in the lives of youth,” Raska said.

Each Ragnar team requires 12 runners (or six runners for an “Ultra” team), two support vehicles (vans), and three volunteers.

There are six runners per van. The first van drops off the first runner and drives ahead to the first exchange point. Teams repeat this pattern six times until they hand off to their second van. This leapfrogging pattern continues day and night all the way to the much-anticipated finish line.

You don’t have to be a pro! Each leg of a Ragnar race varies in difficulty so elite and novice runners can run together in teams. The average team pace is 11 minutes per mile.

All local teams must provide three volunteers to help along the race course (van drivers do not count as volunteers). Teams are considered local if they have one or more team members within 100 miles of any point on the course.

PAL supporters who would like to organize a team for the Napa Valley race can register online at the Ragnar website or email Carla Raska for more information. Make sure to use the PAL promo code NV11PAL. When you do, you help raise money for PAL.

Ragnar Events, LLC was co-founded in 2004 by Dan Hill and Tanner Bell to fulfill the lifelong dream of Hill’s father, who envisioned a relay race across the Utah mountains. Hill and Bell organized a 188-mile relay from Logan to Park City, Utah, in 2004. Since then, the company has grown from sponsoring a single relay in Utah to hosting 14 races, including the largest overnight relay series in the nation.