With more than 31 years of law enforcement experience, Chief Jackie Gomez-Whiteley brings her wisdom and strategic problem-solving skills to her roles as a senior project manager and senior associate at the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM).
Gomez-Whiteley knew she was passionate about law enforcement at 14 years old when she jumped out of a police car on a ride-along to help a deputy with a reported stabbing incident. The deputy told her about the local Police Explorer program, and she has not looked back.
Her overarching career has led her to serve in patrol, investigations and administration with the Orange Police Department (OPD) as well as becoming the Captain and Chief of Police at the Cypress Police Department – the first woman to serve as a sergeant and lieutenant at OPD and the first woman Police Chief of a municipal agency in Orange County, California.
Despite also being awarded the Medal of Valor by the OPD for her heroic actions involving a kidnap and attempted murder suspect, Gomez-Whiteley humbly waves off her accomplishments with the advice her mother gave her when she was a teenager: “There were many women before you that did so much to give you this opportunity. Now, you have an obligation to the women coming in behind you to make a difference for them.”
Over the last three years at CPSM, Gomez-Whiteley has utilized her expansive breadth of knowledge to advise and offer support to numerous public safety agencies.
“Most of us [at CPSM], if not all, are retired executives with a broad body of experience to draw upon so that when we go to organizations, we can do a whole top-to-bottom assessment,” Gomez-Whiteley said. “We do this work because we have a love for our industry, and we want to help make it better. We come in to make good organizations better.”
Through teaching as an adjunct instructor at a handful of law enforcement training centers throughout California, Gomez-Whiteley has been able to see the trends of contemporary issues for police chiefs and other police leaders and is able to bring this back to her clients at CPSM.
“I share my mistakes and information that, if I had known then what I know now, I would have been a much more effective law enforcement leader. I try to save them the trouble of having that regret,” Gomez-Whiteley said. “Now, more than ever, we need leaders that understand the need to lead and shepherd organizations through change.”
Although she retired in 2015, Gomez-Whiteley said she hopes to give community leaders a sense of solace and a different, unbiased perspective during crises or emergencies.
“In chapter two, I want to do what I can to share my experiences to make our industry better because I have such a belief in what we do for society and our communities,” Gomez-Whiteley said. “In my retirement, we hope to provide insight and help to city managers, police chiefs and sheriffs on how to regain public trust and confidence. That’s what we’re all about and it’s that passion that drives us to make it better.”
Gomez-Whitely earned a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership with a certificate in Public and Non-Profit Leadership from Chapman University as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University.
To read Gomez-Whiteley’s full bio, visit https://www.cpsm.us/about/team/chief-jackie-gomez-whiteley/.
CPSM provides training and research for ICMA’s members and represents ICMA in its dealings with the federal government and other public safety professional associations, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Fire Chiefs Association, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, Police Executive Research Forum, International Public Management Association for Human Resources, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), National Fire Protection Association, and others. CPSM also represents local governments at the federal level and has been involved in numerous projects with DOJ and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.