To Protect and Serve

by Natalia St. Lawrence '16

Public safety is a fundamental element of a functioning society. Every day, Sasha Borenstein ’14 agrees to assist, comfort, step in and step up to help others as a patrol officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.

On any given night, Sasha Borenstein ’14 may arrive on the scene of 20 different radio calls throughout greater Los Angeles. And in her work as a patrol officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, she’s called on to wear just as many hats.

“Being a police officer is being someone’s friend, someone’s mentor or a confidant for those who need someone to trust and talk to,” says Borenstein.

Though she often sees people in their worst moments — a domestic dispute, a robbery or a traffic accident — providing a helping hand through loss and trauma is a critical component of creating safe spaces in homes and neighborhoods throughout the city.

Sworn to protect the public, Borenstein has learned that the interactions that take place between radio calls are fundamental to building community trust. In fact, the former Heron uses one of her abilities and passions — her love for basketball — to develop meaningful connections with community members. A four-year member of the William Smith basketball team, Borenstein continues to play for the LAPD women’s basketball team, where she participates in a department-sponsored youth program that keeps the lights on so kids can play in the park after dark.

Having the opportunity to shoot hoops in a neighborhood park offers Borenstein the chance to establish positive relationships with local kids. “Getting to see their faces light up when I grab a ball and ask them to play — that’s the stuff that really makes me love what I do,” she says.

Borenstein’s commitment to a philosophy of community policing, in which she develops meaningful connections to the people in her division, has evolved through her training on the ground at the LAPD and her education at the Colleges.

A psychology major with minors in sociology and social justice, Borenstein has always applied a critical understanding of people’s behaviors to her work. Her earliest experience in law enforcement, as an intern for the City of Geneva Police Department, was completed in conjunction with an independent study with Associate Professor of Sociology James Sutton, a national expert on interpersonal violence, vulnerable populations and deviance.

After taking ridealongs with GPD officers and observing court cases at the Geneva City Court, Borenstein would compare her experiences to the writings of experts on socially deviant behaviors. She also debriefed with Sutton, who continues to be one of her mentors.

Borenstein’s path to law enforcement was aided by a connection she made when she was considering attending William Smith. Dr. Lowell J. Levine ’59, a board-certified forensic ondontologist and the director of operations for the New York State Police Medicolegal Investigations Unit, was a member of the teams that identified Nicholas II of Russia and investigated the death of President Kennedy. Through Levine, Borenstein has been able to attend homicide seminars and connect with people and opportunities that eventually led her to the LAPD.

“Lowell showed me how a liberal arts education was the right path for me, how it could give me endless opportunity,” she explains.

Borenstein’s long-term career plan is to work in the robbery homicide division of the LAPD, taking her expertise in community policing to a new level and furthering the safety of the people she has sworn to protect.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.