Vice Mayor Cindy Allen has long advocated for the community through her history of working in public service. As a business owner and member of the city council, her catalyst has always been to support the people of Long Beach by ensuring access to fair-paying jobs and advocating for women’s rights and access to resources. She was just elected vice mayor last year, but a few years prior she would have never envisioned herself in this position. Before becoming a business owner and a part of the city council, Allen was knee-deep in her law enforcement career.
Back when she entered the field in 1988, there were only 3 women in the entire police academy. “The expectations of a woman entering law enforcement were so much higher,” Allen said. “A lot of people don’t have faith in your abilities whether it’s mental, physical, or fortitude. It was so important for me to do a good job.” By proving herself to be just as capable as the men on the force, she became one of the first women to work in the Career Criminal Apprehension Team, an elite department in the LBPD.
Her hard work didn’t stop there, however. She felt an even bigger responsibility to do her job well so that opportunities in these divisions would be open to more women in the future. “Women are really good at police work,” Allen said. “Working in law enforcement is not all physical, and women have an innate ability to talk, listen, and reason. I’m happy to see that more women are choosing this profession and that they have better opportunities to become leaders in the field, but we still have some ways to go.”
According to the U.S. Census, women currently make up 12% of sworn officers and 3% of police leadership. Allen was happy to announce that Long Beach has signed on to the 30×30 pledge, which aims to reach 30% of women in the force by 2030. Research suggests that more representation of women in law enforcement would mean less use of excessive force, better outcomes for crime victims, and trust in the police through female officers’ honesty and compassion.
Allen’s police career was unfortunately cut short due to an injury she had suffered. While working patrol one day, she recognized a career criminal—a person with a lengthy and dangerous criminal record. She had attempted to arrest the individual, but he had fought back very hard. He had tried to grab her gun from her, and although her instincts were quick, she had endured a major back injury in the fight. She had to retire her badge, but although she would no longer serve in the police force, Allen was quick to jump back on her feet. She became a business owner and started her first all-female business, but the discrimination she felt as a woman was still ever-present.
“I remember once a consultant from a company told me that people would not want to work with me because I led an all-female business, so I would hire men part-time to sit at desks and pretend like they worked for me.” Allen had to work harder to obtain bigger contracts and better opportunities in the business world, but she states that she is comforted by the fact that as time goes by, it has become easier for women in business to achieve the same success as men.
“We’ve come so far, but it’s still a tough world out there for all women in general, but specifically for women of color,” Allen said. “A woman of color still has a lesser likelihood of having better opportunities in business.” Even before becoming elected to her current position, Allen had been working with the Long Beach Economic Partnership to create grants for WOC. “Getting them those grants so they can have equal footing is something that is really important to me,” she said “Now, every time I do anything in my new role, I think: ‘How does this affect women? How can I secure funding so that ALL women have access to opportunities and to the resources they need?’ And I don’t take no for an answer. If I’m told no it lights a fire in my heart, and I become even more determined to figure out a way to get it done.”
All of Allen’s life’s work, whether as a business owner or police officer or vice mayor, has proven that women in these positions are capable of triumph. She is motivated by the principle that others should have equitable means to achieve success without all of the difficulties she has had to face. The Vice Mayor concluded her interview with LB Living on this note: “I want to tell women entering any workforce to act as if they are going to be the next boss. I hope you’re our next female police chief. I hope you’re our next mayor. I hope you’re our next governor. Because you know what happens when women lead? They bring other women up with them. Uplifting women is just a way of life.”