Oct. 20, 2011 | Last year, San Leandro acknowledged its woeful record in hiring women and minorities at the police department needed to be rectified. In January, it tabbed Sandra Spagnoli as the city’s first female police chief, but the hiring glossed over a shockingly low number of minorities working within the force and, in particular, those with higher authority.

That may be about to change. Sources within the department say two current female officers have applied for promotion to sergeant this month. Both began the interview process Oct. 14. They and an unknown number of additional candidates, met with the chief sometime this week, according to the source.

No woman has ever been promoted permenantly to any rank above officer in San Leandro history. Officer Anne O’Callaghan, one of the two women seeking promotion, controversially held the position as acting sergeant for three months in 2008.

O’Callaghan is a 20-year veteran of the force and was one of the six female officers who filed civil suits against the city in 2008. She claimed the department passed her over for promotion based on age and gender discrimination. The city settled with O’Callaghan in U.S. District Court last year for $225,000. O’Callaghan is also the wife of current sergeant and POA president Mike Sobek.

Officer Kerri Kovach, another long-time member of the force, is also believed to be seeking promotion for sergeant.

As of September, of the 91 sworn officers on active duty, on disability or receiving workers compensation, just 4 are women, according to the city.