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Santa Ana gets first female Korean sergeant

May 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Santa Ana Police officer is moving up the ranks, and she's scoring a first for the department. On Monday she'll be the first woman of Korean descent to become a sergeant. Sandy Kim now joins a small group of women of Asian descent who have achieved that rank in local law enforcement.

Sandy Kim, 43, has been with the Santa Ana Police Department for the past 10 years. The corporal has just learned she's made sergeant, making her the department's first woman of Korean descent to reach that rank.

"I was excited. Having thought of all the training that I went through, all the studying and taking all the tests," said Kim. "Now it's kind of a relief, like, 'OK, I'm going to make it.'"

Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters says more than 125 people applied for the position. The competition was tough. The process includes oral and written exams.

"She had to have outstanding experience, education, and then recommendations from her supervisors," said Walters.

Kim spent several years with the Los Angeles Police Department, rising to the rank of patrol sergeant. In 2007 she received the Medal of Valor for helping evacuate victims during a fire at an L.A. seniors home.

"Having seen her over the years and see her develop, and just her skills, it's just a thrill for me to promote her," said Walters.

Kim is also a strong athlete, holding the women's record for the 11th leg of one of the world's toughest races, the Baker to Vegas Relay. She will also compete in the World Police and Fire Games in September.

Kim speaks English, Korean and Spanish. She says she's also noticed having an Asian background has helped at times in the community.

"There are a lot of times when people in the community, they want to speak to certain races, certain genders," said Kim. "They feel comfortable knowing because I'm a Korean female that they're able to talk to me and communicate with me and it gets the job done."

Kim says she became a police officer to help people. She hopes she can be a role model to others when she starts wearing her extra stripe Monday.

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