Having a servant's heart: A mother-daughter deputy duo's mission to give back

Growing up, Kendra Snowden didn't idolize her mom because she was in law enforcement; instead, she admired her work ethic and passion for people

In law enforcement, it's common to see children follow in their parents' footsteps.

A child will watch in awe as their mother or father puts on their uniform, turning into their very own version of a superhero. And, in typical superhero fashion, a police officer dons their uniform and jumps into the car of every child's dreams – one that lights up in different colors and makes loud noises.

But Kendra Snowden didn't grow up idolizing her mother because she was in law enforcement – that was just a coincidence. Instead, she has always admired her mother's work ethic, passion for people and commitment to community service.

Growing up in a family as the only girl with two brothers, Deputy Kendra Snowden's bond with her mother was already close.
Growing up in a family as the only girl with two brothers, Deputy Kendra Snowden's bond with her mother was already close. (Photo/Tulare County Sheriff's Office)

Taking the same career path as her mother wasn't a direct route for Snowden, but it ended up being exactly where she was supposed to be. As an adult, she realized it wasn't about the uniform or the car – it was about serving and protecting the people in her community.

Choosing a career in law enforcement

Snowden, 27, the oldest of three and a longtime basketball athlete, attended Park University in Parkville, Missouri, in hopes of becoming an athletic trainer.

"It was not my intention to go into law enforcement," Snowden said.

She ultimately changed her major to criminal justice after realizing many of the athletic training clinics interfered with her basketball practice.

"I thought to myself, 'Oh, mom does it. She enjoys it. I'm just going to go for it.'"

She received her bachelor's degree in criminal justice and landed a job with the TSA at an airport in Kansas City, Missouri. However, Snowden was missing the one thing that made her the most passionate about law enforcement: the ability to give back to the community.

She decided to go back home and started working with kids in a pro-youth program in Visalia, California. During that time, her mother, Deputy Angelica Torres, planted a seed about joining the Tulare County Sheriff's Office youth development unit.

"That's really what pushed me over – being able to work with kids," Snowden said. "It's a passion – it was where I was supposed to be."

Snowden has now been with the sheriff's office for three years. Torres, who began her career in probation, has been with the county for 20 years.

"Going into this field, I didn't realize how much she had to sacrifice," Snowden said. "She sacrificed time with us – her family – because of long hours. As a kid, I didn't understand it. But now being in the field with her, I just really admire her."

Growing up in a family as the only girl with two brothers, Snowden's bond with her mother was already close. Now, it's closer than ever. And, when they're not on shift, they spend their downtime volunteering as coaches for the 6-Point Stars, a girls-only travel basketball team.

The girls' 6-Point Stars traveling basketball team won the Central Valley League Championship. In the league, they were undefeated 6-0.
The girls' 6-Point Stars traveling basketball team won the Central Valley League Championship. In the league, they were undefeated 6-0. (Photo/Tulare County Sheriff's Office)

But the point they're both at now – both personally and professionally – wasn't an easy destination – especially for Torres, a single parent who has spent her career working to support her children.

Giving back to the community

Torres, the youngest of nine, didn't see her parents very often when she was growing up.

"They were always working – they worked in the fields," she said. "One of my brothers was like the father figure in my life. He really supported me with the activities that I did. He was always like, 'OK, let's go running. I'm going to get you ready for basketball.'"

However, Torres' family always made it a priority to volunteer and give back to their community.

"My dad would always give back, even if it was just giving a watermelon or tomatoes to our neighbors," Torres said. "I love helping people. It's always better to give than to receive. We're here for a reason and my reason is to serve."

Giving back isn't new for Snowden, either. She spent her childhood watching her mother make it a priority, despite the long hours she put in at work week after week.

TCSO Community Food Giveaway in Ivanhoe

TCSO mother/daughter deputy duo give back Giving back to the community holds special meaning for one mother/daughter deputy duo. Each week, Deputy Angelica Torres and Deputy Kendra Snowden help pass out hundreds of boxes of food and masks with the Sheriff’s PAL Program, deputies, explorers and community partners. Most recently at the TCSO Community Food & Mask Giveaway in Ivanhoe, nearly 200 boxes of food and 75 masks were given out. Deputy Snowden approaches the food giveaways with a humble heart. “You know a lot of times, people think that the police are only there to arrest somebody but in reality, I joined the Sheriff’s Department so that I could give back to my community,” she said. “I wanted to serve my community and have that Servant’s Heart for the community that I’m working for.” Her mother agreed. “My parents worked in the farms and I remember when we didn’t have any food and we didn’t even have something to drink besides water,” Deputy Torres said. “So, that’s the reason why I like to give back because I know where I come from. So, I like to also give back for that reason because I was there.” Upcoming TCSO Community Food & Mask Giveaway: Pixley: 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the Pixley Substation, 161 N. Pine St. Info: Daisy (559) 802-9589

Posted by Tulare County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, October 27, 2020

"My mom has always been a great example of that," Snowden said. "As I kid, I remember my mom saying, 'We're going to go help this person out' or 'You see those people on the corner? We're going to get them some food and we're going to go give it to them.' Giving back has always been normal. It's nothing out of the ordinary for us."

It was that same reasoning that led Torres to working in probation. "I wanted to work with kids – that's the reason why I went into that field," she said.

Torres just recently went from transports back into the facilities, a move she says has her "getting her feet wet again."

"There are times I'm like, 'Kendra, how do you do this? How do you look this up?' I was doing transport and wasn't behind the desk all the time. So, she'll text me saying, 'OK, mom, this is what you do. This is where you go.' It's cool to have her there for me, too."

Being there for her mom, Snowden says, is easy.

"I saw her last night and gave her three or four hugs, because she's been working a lot of overtime. Her work ethic is out of this world. It's cool to have that bond … to be able to talk about life, family and work. She's not just my mom. She's my best friend."

And having that support has made all the difference in Snowden's law enforcement career.

"I have confidence because I know that she supports me no matter what happens," Snowden said.

In true motherhood fashion, though, Torres knew all along that Snowden had "the stuff."

"I knew that she had that strong character," Torres said. "I knew she could do it if she wanted to. It's all about having family support, especially in law enforcement."

That support and encouragement has given Snowden the confidence to flourish in a new, upcoming role: becoming a mother herself.

Deputy Snowden has now been with the sheriff's office for three years. Deputy Torres has been with the county for 20 years.
Deputy Snowden has now been with the sheriff's office for three years. Deputy Torres has been with the county for 20 years. (Photo/Tulare County Sheriff's Office)

A servant's heart

Snowden, who's due in September with her first child, is "starting to plan everything."

"I had her playing basketball since she was five," Torres laughed. "I think we're going to do the same with our grandkid."

Now, whether Snowden's first-born chooses an athletic path or policing career, is irrelevant. Instead, Snowden and Torres are both focused on raising a child with a servant's heart.

"It's not an easy field to go into," Snowden said. "It has to be one that you choose. I still see it as a 'get to' now. I get to work this job. I get to work with my mom. I get to work with the youth. I get to work with the community."

And just like her mom, Snowden wants to be the best role model she can be to her child. But she's not focused on being a superhero – just a supermom.

"Kendra is self-driven, has a big heart and is very loving," Torres said. "I'm here for my babies, even though they're already all grown. I'm always here for them. I had a hard life and I wanted to make theirs better. I wanted them to know they could always lean on me."

Superhero or not, one thing is for sure: this new addition to the family will idolize this one-of-a-kind mother-daughter deputy duo.

NEXT: 'My No. 1 was being a mom': How a career in LE gave one Lt. the balance she needed as a mom

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