Amanda Rego’s career aspiration began as a fourth-grade safety patrol guard in Pacific Beach
Former USD basketball standout and pro player had wanted a career in law enforcement since she was a grade-schooler
One morning, fourth-grader Amanda Rego stood in front of her school wearing a red “safety patrol” shirt helping students cross the street. She was proud to be entrusted with this responsibility.
Then, a car ran the stop sign. Rego blew her whistle loudly, just as she was trained to do.
But the car kept coming.
Fortunately, no one was in the street. But Rego angrily thought to herself, “Why would they do that!?”
It was around that time when she decided she wanted to become a police officer. And she never wavered.
Today, she is Detective Rego of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and her work has gone far beyond helping students cross the street. Working from the Santee Patrol Station and regularly assisting the Border Crime Suppression Team, she has been a part of solving serious crimes, making arrests and seizing large quantities of drugs along the border.
Rego’s path to becoming a detective was extraordinary.
She was born in 1986 and raised in Pacific Beach. From an early age she played basketball with her three older brothers and neighborhood kids. The youngest player and only girl, she could not reach the basket, so she played guard, dribbling the ball and passing to her teammates.
At 5, she played on a boys YMCA team. At 8, she played in a boys recreation league.
While a sixth-grader at Pacific Beach Middle School, Rego earned a position on the all-boys team. “At that age,” she said, “all I knew was playing with boys.”
The next year she was playing competitive girls club basketball.
She played basketball at Mission Bay High School, where she led the team to two titles, was league MVP and was named to the Union-Tribune’s All-Academic Team.
After graduating in 2004, she attended the University of San Diego, rejecting about 150 other college recruitment letters, including from UCLA and USC.
While playing basketball at USD, Rego, a point guard, led the nation in assists. Her team won a league championship and she was named league Co-Player of the Year.
She graduated in 2008 and signed a contract to play professional basketball in Germany. There, she led her team to its first playoff berth, led the league in assists and steals and was named the nation’s top guard.
However, multiple finger and hand injuries ended her professional basketball career.
So, she decided it was time to pursue her childhood career goal.
In 2017, at 31, she became a rookie deputy sheriff assigned to the Las Colinas women’s jail. By 2019, she was a patrol deputy and, in 2022, she became a detective.
She is proud of her careers in basketball and law enforcement. “I feel I accomplished what I wanted in basketball,” she said. “I am now the person I’ve always wanted to be.”
She sees similarities in character traits important to law enforcement and professional basketball.
“When playing point guard, you make quick decisions under pressure from fans, TV and opposing players. You need to remain calm and assist your teammates. As an officer, safety for you, your partner and the public, depends upon your decision-making, knowing your role on the team and assisting other officers,” Rego said.
Those traits especially come into play when she is involved in high-speed chases and use-of-force situations, where she would get pushed and hit.
“It is important to keep your cool and not get rattled,” she said.
“Being a passenger in a high-speed chase is challenging. I would instinctively hit the imaginary brake at my feet, but always kept it together and remained a good partner.”
There are also light moments, as when she plays basketball with male deputies and wins. “Some are solid players, but one throws a basketball like a baseball.”
She frequently organizes physical workouts her colleagues are unaccustomed to. “I torture them with that,” she said.
Having been a professional athlete — and school crossing guard — Rego lists being a deputy as “one of the greatest jobs.”
“You serve the community and get to help people in distress. That is personally rewarding.”