Since she was five years old, Ormond Beach Police Capt. Lisa Rosenthal knew she was going to be a police officer. Growing up, she had an uncle in law enforcement, and he helped to mold her and show her how police help people. He instilled in her the passion to want to help make positive changes in a community. “This is what I was born to do,” Rosenthal said. “I always knew. There was no doubt in my mind.”
Now, after 22 years in law enforcement, Rosenthal is retiring from the force. Looking back on her career, she calls herself fortunate and blessed for the experiences and opportunities she received. For her, being an officer has always been more than patrolling the streets and taking criminals in. It’s been about the little things, she said, like helping a civilian whose car ran out of gas, or helping an elderly person cross the street. The idea of making a difference in the community has propelled her to where she is now — and she is proud to put on the blue uniform every day.
Many years ago, she encountered a man who was in the thralls of drug addiction. Rosenthal said that, at that low point in his life, it wasn’t about taking him to jail. The man needed someone to listen to him. Rosenthal listened.
A year ago, a new officer came up to her and told her that he had come upon the same man in the community. The officer told Rosenthal that the man wanted him to tell her that since their conversation, he stopped using narcotics. He said Rosenthal had made a difference in his life. “It made my life worth it, at that point when I heard that,” she said.
As someone who had grown up wanting to serve, and who later did serve in a different way by joining the Air Force, hearing that let her know that her job wasn’t done in vain. It came full circle for her, Rosenthal said. While leaving is bittersweet, Rosenthal does hope to leave behind a legacy for aspiring female officers with OBPD.
She said women don’t always have enough self-esteem or self-respect to think it’s possible to hold a position of command. She felt that way a couple years ago before she became the Police Department’s second-in-command. Her thinking changed when she attended a training course for command officers. They had to get up and talk about themselves, and Rosenthal voiced her insecurities about whether she was ready and qualified for the position. Afterward, a woman came up to her and handed her an index card that read: “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” Not a day goes by that Rosenthal doesn’t read that index card. It was a pivotal point in her career, she said. It made her feel justified and worthy.
“And I thought, you know what?” Rosenthal said. “I am good enough for this, and I am strong enough. And I’ve earned this.” She also thanks City Manager Joyce Shanahan and Police Chief Jesse Godfrey for helping her along the way.
“If it wasn’t for their mentoring and their belief in me, I probably would have never believed in myself, because this is a tough job,” Rosenthal said. “It’s a tough position.” There are always people who will not be happy to see you succeed as a woman, she added. But success is still achievable, and Rosenthal said Shanahan is also an example of not only a female leader in the community, but a strong leader.
“As women, we need to just push forward,” Rosenthal said. “Be strong. Be proud of who we are and what we bring to the table.”
We honor you, Lisa Rosenthal.