Careers to Watch
Sergeant Jill Dolce
Sergeant Jill Dolce (pronounced dol-chay) had never considered a career in law enforcement. She was too busy playing collegiate softball and earning a Bachelor's Degree in English and a teaching credential at California State University at San Jose. After finishing her studies and entering the working world as a high school teacher (like her father), she searched for ways to fulfill her need for athletic competition. She played community league softball and soccer and handled the "power spot" on a six-person outrigger canoe team for a time.
"The canoeing was the hardest," she remembered. "The first time we did the race from Los Angeles to Catalina Island, a 26-mile race, we battled a headwind the whole way. It took us six and a half hours. The experience was unforgettable, though. When we were out of sight of land, more than a dozen dolphins joined us and swam along side for almost an hour. That's an experience money can't buy."
Jill decided to take up weight lifting and found she was good at it.
"It's being in competition with yourself, like canoeing," she said. "It's about seeing what you can do, what limits you can overcome."
Her dedication in the weight room caught the attention of California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Ron Johnson. Jill asked him for a "spot" when performing a bench press, and Johnson asked her what she did for a living.
"I said, 'I'm a teacher.' He looked at me, and said, 'I was a teacher, too.' We talked a little and he asked if I'd ever thought about a career in law enforcement. My first thought was, are you crazy?"
The more they talked about it, the more Jill thought about her life.
"I remember thinking that what I really wanted was a career that worked my body as well as my mind. I also wanted to make a difference, and I wasn't sure that teaching high school was my way to do that."
Finally, after seven years of teaching, and a lot of talking in the gym with Officer Johnson, Jill decided to apply to the CHP and was accepted to the Academy. She counts graduating from the Academy as one of her greatest achievements.
"Initially, my mother was horrified at the idea. My father, being a career educator, couldn't understand why I'd want to leave teaching. But you should have seen how proud they were of me on graduation day."
Jill found that seven years of teaching actually helped prepare her to "work the road" and deal with the human situations she deals with every day.
"I tell people that working in a patrol car is safer than teaching high school." she laughed.
She continued her weight lifting and studies, winning a Gold Medal in the bench press at the California Police Games and earning a Master's Degree in American Literature.
After working road patrol for a number of years, she transferred to an instructor position at the CHP Academy, first teaching enforcement tactics and then criminal law. Jill promoted from the Academy to the rank of sergeant and was assigned to the San Francisco area as a field sergeant for two years. She currently is assigned to the Office of Internal Affairs. In her off-duty life, she teaches at the University of Phoenix (Criminal Justice / Humanities Departments).
"For me, life is about making a difference and meeting your personal challenges," Jill said. "In my job, I make a difference in people's lives every day. And the more responsibility I earn, the more of a difference I can make. With my weight lifting and college studies, I continually challenge myself to become even better. This is the kind of life I wanted. When I look back, I'll know that I did what I wanted to do, and I did it well."
For additional information, contact the CHP at:
1-888-4A CHP JOB
or by e-mail