Global Experiences Shape Officer’s Career Track

Bilingual officer connects with community

You could say Ana Bertens was worlds away before joining the Houston Police Department. Her unlikely path to law enforcement came while she traveled back and forth to live between two continents: North America and South America. Born in Santiago, Chile, Bertens’ parents brought her and her siblings to the United States in the 1990s where she spent half of her life between Florida and Houston.

After turning 20, she moved back to Chile where she spent seven years working as a producer for a children’s TV show and on music videos. Bertens met her future spouse in Chile and the two got married, deciding to begin their life together in the U.S.

“Working as a producer fulfilled my passion for writing,” said Bertens. “But, I had another passion I wanted to pursue, and that was working for HPD. The best thing that ever happened to me was getting into HPD.”

Bertens in the lobby of the Houston Marriott Westchase where she regularly drops in during her patrols to visit with hotel staff.

Santiago Shakes, A Call for Help Goes Unanswered

Prior to returning to the United States, things happened in Chile that set her new future in motion. An 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country. The three-minute earthquake triggered more than 1,000 landslides, damaged 370,000 homes and left 802 people dead. “I’ve never been in an earthquake,” said Bertens. “Hurricanes and tornadoes don’t bother me as much as the ground shaking because you have nowhere to go. It is pretty intense.”

Despite the danger of being stuck in a seventh-floor apartment with her mom, Bertens said she felt calm during the unfolding horror. “I didn’t hesitate. I wasn’t scared. I’ve never felt so focused under so much pressure,” she said.

Although the natural disaster confirmed her strengths, a man-made tragedy had a sobering effect on the disparities she saw in emergency responses by government. She witnessed an apartment resident get shot at close range. Bertens rushed to call emergency responders, but when she repeatedly dialed Chile’s version of 911, no one answered.

Without these experiences, Bertens might have chosen another path. Bertens credits her late father for his influence on her wanting to help others. “You’ll always feel better helping people,” she recalls him saying. “I don’t know why it took me so long to find this path, but I think I had to live certain things to see it,” she said.

Drastic Differences in Law Enforcement Abroad

Berten’s say her natural ability to stay cool under pressure is one reason she wanted to join law enforcement.

She also had a dual perspective of how law enforcement was handled and viewed in two countries. “I think I could be good at this,” she recalls thinking during a pivotal point.

“You have to be level-headed because there are people that count on you.” said Bertens. The two-year HPD veteran joined Westchase District Patrol last year. “I love Houston because we are close to the community. We pride ourselves on that. Even when we speak to a suspect, it’s always with respect. Ironically, people that I’ve taken to jail have thanked me for treating them with respect.”

From South America to America, Bertens says her journey enabled transitions that were life changing. Speaking to people, finding out what’s going on is her approach to Westchase District. She feels she’s serving the community and connecting with people.

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