Captain I Synthia L. Lee of the North Hollywood Police Department One on One for The Tolucan Times
On June 15th Lt. SYNTHIA LEE became the new Captain I of the North Hollywood Community Police Department. Most recently assigned to Pacific LAX’s station (as a lieutenant) she now oversees the neighborhoods of not just North Hollywood, but also Studio City, Sun Valley, Toluca Lake, Toluca Woods, Universal City, Valley Glen, Valley Village, West Toluca and The Cahuenga Pass. Lee grew up in Los Angeles County and was bussed into Carson for grades one through six. It was during that time as a small child she became interested in law enforcement as she reveals below. She later attended the University of Phoenix in Gardena taking classes at night while working patrol during the day and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1996. Lee went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 2007 at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She also served briefly in the military.
While she has no desire to become Chief of Police, Lee is quite content with her new position of Captain for North Hollywood Division. She was warmly welcomed by her new department and is excited about spending time with the people she is now working with as well as with the community. She was quite impressed with the large turnout of children at the department’s North Hollywood Little Library event held at the station the day of this interview. (The NHLL provides a safe haven for kids to come and read books with their parents or by themselves.)
Lee granted The Tolucan Times her first interview since taking on her new position at the Division located at 11640 Burbank Boulevard.
What drew you into public service?
I met a police officer when I was in 3rd grade by my elementary school in Carson that just kind of stuck with me. When I got out of high school I went into the military briefly, ended up coming back to work as a civilian for the police department and just met great people!
In 2012 you attended the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy.
Yes, it provides 10 weeks of top-notch physical, mental and educational training for law enforcement and military officers at the Quantico, Virginia Marine Base. The course is voluntary and very hard to get chosen to attend. There were 257 people in my class including international students from China, Guam, Korea and Greece. It was not a vacation; it was like boot camp almost. It is dorm living; you share a room and a bathroom. There were 12 females in my class; it was a great experience and I made great friendships. Eight of us females just got together this past March in Austin, Texas to spend the weekend together and catch up.
How did you become Captain?
You have to have a four year degree from a university in order to even be promoted to this position. I also took on certain jobs along the way. I was an aide to a Commander in a Bureau; when the LAPD was under a Department of Justice Consent Decree, I was chosen to be assigned to Audit Division, which had audit oversight of all internal entities. That assignment taught me a great deal. In order to participate in the process for promotion to captain, I also had to write three essays, then participate in an oral interview with an executive officer at the rank of Deputy Chief of the LAPD and an outside Chief from a different department. When the list came out they promoted five captains and I was blessed to be in those first five. I hope my reputation also had something to do with it.
Why become a Captain?
I enjoy my job and [I wanted] more responsibility. I started with the City 31 years ago as a Clerk Typist… Going from that to Captain is awesome, very humbling and I have enjoyed every step of the way. I hope my hard work ethic and the way I carry myself is what encouraged my peers to push me to do more. You get to a point where people say the job is no longer about you, it’s about others. I was happy at LAX; it was a great job and close to home, but at some point you do become stagnant. This job is no longer about me; it is about mentoring, guiding and assisting others.
What is the difference between your last position as a Lieutenant and your new one as Captain?
More responsibility…I worked for a Captain at LAX; we had a total of 42 people and only dealt with the issues at the airport. Now I’m at a division with a couple hundred people along with an entire community, their issues and needs are important to me.
What do you do for fun?
I try to play golf; I’m not that good, but I plan on getting better! I enjoy spending time with my friends and my family. I am very involved with my church and working in the community around my church. I have taught Sunday school and do a lot of mentoring with the kids in the neighborhood regarding reading, math, whatever they need help with. We have Vacation Bible School coming up soon…I will try to do as much as I can with that but with my new position my spare time is limited.
What is next for you?
My whole career has never been guided by what my next move is; it is guided by wherever God places me at that time and that is how I have done everything.