At 18, Roberta Vasquez was bored. She was in her second year of college, still living at home, and her life lacked - well - adventure. So she dropped out of college, rented her own apartment and went looking for a job. Her first stop was the May Company department store in Los Angeles. On the job application, she noticed the classification "Security." She was intrigued. "When I thought about it, I said to myself, 'I can do that!' I had the strength and I had a black belt in karate, so I knew I could handle myself." Bert's qualifications, though startling for an 18-year-old, were just right. She got the job - and a spot in Playboy's February 1984 Women of Steel pictorial. Cool, strong and compassionate, she soon found she was a natural at law enforcement. She applied for, and got, another position, this time with the California State Police, patrolling state property.
In those two jobs, Roberta got the adventure she was looking for - sometimes. Sometimes, it was just an experience.
"I discovered I have to adopt a different personality toward the public because I'm a woman. I don't necessarily have to be meaner than a man but just a little more assertive. I have to stand my ground and demand certain things from the people I'm dealing with. I can't smile, which leads everyone to ask, 'What's wrong?"' or 'Didn't you get any last night?' But I have to, because I'm in a car all by myself and my closest backup is ten minutes away. It's a scary situation."