Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

U of R alumni receive promotions at Redlands Police Department

Four members of the Redlands Police Department who received job promotions this month have something in common—a University of Redlands diploma. Travis Martinez ’94, Rachel Tolber ’98, Esteban Valenzuela ’02 ’09, and Chris Mead ’14 all attribute their individual success to some aspect of their U of R education. 

Martinez, who was promoted from lieutenant to commander, says he first became interested in working for the police department 23 years ago thanks to a connection with a Pi Chi fraternity brother who was a police captain. “He convinced me to do a couple ride alongs with him, and then I became an intern for the Redlands Police Department,” says Martinez.

Martinez says he uses lessons he learned at the U of R—both in the classroom and out on the football field—in his job every day. “The coaches encouraged attention to detail,” he notes. “I keep that in mind when I’m conducting complex investigations. It’s a matter of never cutting corners.” 

Tolber, a former U of R water polo player who was promoted to lieutenant, also came to police work through University connections. “While I was working in media services, I was introduced to former police chief Jim Buermann and he suggested that I become an intern for the department,” she says. “Now I’ve been working here for almost 20 years!”

During those 20 years, Tolber has worked patrol and served as a field-training officer, a special victim’s detective, and the Professional Standards Sergeant, receiving civic recognitions and honors for her leadership, work, and service. She notes that her time at the U of R fostered a deep commitment to service within the Redlands community. 

Valenzuela, a former U of R football captain who was promoted to sergeant, says that he carries the sense of community he found at the University into the police force. “At the U of R I realized that making changes within the community has a lot to do with how you treat people,” he says. “Creating positive relationships with people in the community is really important as a police officer.” 

A former member of the University’s service-based organization Rangi Ya Giza, Valenzuela continues to invest in the community through his non-profit, Blue Collar Athletics, raising money for youth athletics. “My RYG membership allowed me to participate in many community events, which was something I wanted to keep doing after graduation.” 

Mead, adopts a similar approach in working with the Redlands community. Mead’s promotion to corporal/detective will require him to work on open investigations, using skills he developed at the U of R. 

“As a police officer, having a strong relationship with the community builds trust,” Mead says. “I need to quickly resolve different situations by actively listening, which is something I developed during the leadership courses in my master’s program. I just want to keep giving back to the community that I grew up in.”

For more information on Martinez, see his Police Foundation biography; on Tolber, see her Police Foundation biography; on Valenzuela, see Redlands Daily Facts article, “Why 4 members of the Redlands Police Department are raising money for youth sports, fitness”; and on Mead, see Redlands Daily Facts article, “Redlands police Officer Chris Mead focuses on positive policing.”