Westminster PD’s first female Vietnamese officer helps keep city safe

By Jessica Peralta

She was just out of college when she went on a patrol ridealong – a suggestion from a family friend who works at the LAPD.

Though she’d been considering a career on the federal side of law enforcement, seeing local police at work was a turning point.

“The ridealong was so much fun,” Westminster PD Officer Claire Tran said.

Tran, who has a degree in economics from UC San Diego, graduated from Golden West Police Academy in 2015. She started out as a part-time reserve officer at the Westminster PD in July 2016 before promoting to full-time officer in July 2017 – making her the agency’s first female Vietnamese police officer in its history.

Westminster PD Officer Claire Tran is the department’s first female Vietnamese officer.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“I think one of the things that draws me to the profession … it’s challenging. You don’t know what to expect. It’s exciting,” Tran said.

Considering Westminster’s large Vietnamese community, knowing how to speak the language is a great benefit out in the field.

“Once they find out I’m Vietnamese, they’ll just start speaking it,” she said.

Tran was raised in Cypress, and her parents were born in Vietnam. Her background helps give her insight into the culture.

“I see where they’re coming from,” she said. “Sometimes they’re wary of police.”

But learning she’s Vietnamese often puts them at ease.

“They feel they can communicate better in Vietnamese,” she said.

Officer Claire Tran, left, with Westminster Police Cpl. Phuong Pham.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Tran found several things appealing about working for the Westminster PD.

“It’s a really progressive department,” she said, adding that many special assignment opportunities are available to officers looking to challenge themselves.

Plus, Westminster PD has special resources, like the 21,000-square-foot range facility and a mental health professional who rides along in patrol to assist with mental health calls. She likes that the agency is large enough to have these types of resources, but small enough that officers feel part of a team.

“It’s not so busy where you’re going from call to call. You also have time to do your self-initiated work,” she said. “These were the kinds of things I was looking for in an agency.”

Once Tran completes her 18-month probation, she looks forward to exploring special assignment opportunities.

“I [am] interested in being a motor,” she said.

With her economics background, she also has an interest in the financial crimes detail. When Tran has an identity theft call, she does her best to help as much as she can.

“I try to take my investigation as far as I can before I hand it over to the detectives, so they don’t have to do as much followup,” she said.

Westminster PD Officer Claire Tran.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

She enjoys the teamwork aspect of working at the Westminster PD.

“The senior officers are always super helpful,” Tran said. “Everyone’s willing to teach you. There’s a lot of young officers starting… We’ll be able to learn and grow together.”

When Tran isn’t working to help keep the city’s streets safe, she enjoys spending time with her family, shopping (“I’m a girl, so I like to shop”), and working out. Athletics has been a big part of her life since she was a child. She started swimming at age 5.

“I was a competitive swimmer all the way up to college,” she said, adding that she also played waterpolo.

More recently, she started training and competing in Olympic weight lifting (her max lift is 81 kilos, roughly 179 pounds).

“I like staying busy,” she said.