By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
When Adele Frese turned 18, she came home from classes at Chabot College and told her parents that she just got a new job.
Her mom thought that maybe they should go shopping and pick up some new work clothes. But Frese explained that her new job would provide a uniform. Without telling anyone, she had just joined the Marine Corps.
That was over 20 years ago, and after serving in the Marines in Japan and returning home to obtain a degree in criminal justice from Cal State Hayward, Frese became a police officer.
Now, Frese has been named chief of police of Greenfield, a small town in Monterey County.
Frese, who previously worked her way up to commander on the Corpus Christi, Texas police force, has been a cop for two decades. She was that department’s first female commander in its 156-year history and selected by the chief of police for the job.
Frese attended Arroyo High, where her interest in law enforcement was first sparked by a tragedy.
While a teenager in 1984, Frese’s classmate Julie Connell was abducted from Kennedy Park, where she had been reading a book. Five days later, her body was found in Palomares Canyon in Castro Valley.
Frese had taken a drama class with Connell and her death inspired Frese.
“I remember her spirit,” said Frese. “I can still see her performing on stage.”
So Frese decided she wanted to join the FBI. A recruiter told her that joining the military would increase her chances of being hired. That’s when signed up with the Marine Corps.
“I just said, “Hey, guess what? I’ve got a new job,” Frese said.
Her dad didn’t take it well at first – he didn’t speak to her for a few days. And an old high school classmate who had joined the military flew back home just to beg her not to go through with it.
But they came around and Frese said the military was instrumental in forming her.
When she got out of the Marines, the FBI was in the middle of a hiring freeze, so she finished her degree at Cal State Hayward.
Frese’s then-husband got a job that took them to Texas, where she joined the Corpus Christ Police Department and worked her way up the ranks. But she was always interested in coming back to California, and when the job as Greenfield’s top cop opened up, she decided to make the move.
Frese regularly returns to San Lorenzo to spend time with her dad, who still lives in town. They had a big family reunion just last weekend.
Frese, a mother of four, says she’s glad that she didn’t go into federal law enforcement and that her career turned out like it did.
“Federal agents can be sort of removed from the community,” said Frese. “To me, developing relationships, getting out in the community, and helping people are the things I love about my job.”