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Alumni profile from Fall 2001 Fanfare
From Golduster to LA cop: The Jill Reinhold file
Probably no one in Ross-Ade Stadium in the early 1980s would have looked at the petite blond, striking in her sequined outfit as she danced and led cheers as a Golduster, and pictured her as a future crime fighter.
No one but Jill Reinhold that is.
Currently a watch commander with the Los Angles Police Department, the Class of '85 graduate from Rensselaer always knew she was destined to lead a life of excitement, and to make a difference in the lives of others. For Reinhold, however, the path to police work - her assignments have included undercover narcotics agent, gang unit and special problems unit - had lots of twists and turns.
At Purdue, "I started in engineering and spent about two years in it. But it wasn't exciting enough for me. I wanted more excitement, and I loved having direct contact with people. I wanted to switch to criminal justice but was talked out of it by a counselor and into retail management," she recalls.
After graduation she got a good job with a dry goods firm in Los Angeles. "And even though I got to work with people, I wanted to feel like I was having more of an impact," Reinhold says. The natural option, in her mind, was police work. It's become her passion.
"I get self gratification by seeing the good I do for someone else," She says. "There's a real sense of making a difference in individual lives, a real sense of 'I helped someone today'."
Pretty blonds with cheerleader experience on their resume can raise the eyebrows of male officers.
"You never get (the comments) directly, but you definitely get the stares like 'This is going to be my partner?' The way I deal with it is that I understand I'm only 5'3" and I compensate for that. I know what limitations I have and I prepared for that."
It should also be noted that Reinhold competes regularly in weight lifting, and is the department record holder in her age and weight category, bench-pressing 155 pounds.
She relishes the challenges presented by Los Angeles' size and its diversity. "I do enjoy working here, I really do. If you're going to be a doctor you go to a place where the people are sick, where you can help. If you're in police work, you go to a place where they need police. Definitely Los Angeles has a great need for police. I absolutely see myself staying in police work," she says.
Working as a senior lead officer on a task force focused on revitalizing the depressed areas of south/central Los Angles stands as one of the highlights of her career. It was her job to coordinate government agencies, form the task force and go out and implore tenants and owners of more than 200 run-down, gang-infested apartment buildings "to join us and make a difference," Reinhold says. "We were able to take back several apartment buildings seized by gang members, had a couple of buildings demolished and were able to change the way some other owners took care of buildings to make a difference."
There have been many times when Reinhold's found herself in dangerous situations. "Never at the time did I feel fearful, but sometimes I'd go home and think about the day and go, 'Oh, wow!' I usually try not to think about it too much."
Although others might not see a relationship between her Golduster past and her present reality, Reinhold does.
"Absolutely there are ties between band and my job just in the discipline factor. You pick up the ability to be punctual, to look sharp in a uniform. I learned the first day in band to look sharp in my uniform. And I really learned that if you work hard you can obtain a goal," she says.
The tough cop lets her other personality show through when she organizes the cheerleaders for the Los Angeles Centurions, the police charity football team that raises money for the Los Angeles Blind Children's Center.
At Purdue homecoming, Reinhold will on the field with other Alumni Band members. "I really enjoy coming back and seeing everyone and seeing how their lives have gone," she says. "There's nothing quite like the thrill of the moment you stand on the sidelines waiting to take the field. It's still quite exciting.
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