Starting as a beat cop, Retired Assistant Chief of Police Rulette Armstead worked at the San Diego Police Department for thirty-one years. She was promoted to Police Captain on August 12, 1988, making her the first woman and the first African-American to be appointed to the rank of Captain in the one hundred year history of the San Diego Police Department. As the Captain in charge of Southeastern Division, she became the first woman to manage an area command. On May 26, 1993, she was appointed Assistant Chief of Police, making her the first woman and the first African-American to ever attain that rank in the Department’s history as well.
Rulette has received numerous honors for her work in the San Diego community. In 2004, she was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame for being a trailblazer for women. She has been honored by the International Association of Women Police as Woman Police Officer of the Year, selected as one of the 100 African American role Models of San Diego County, received the Outstanding Alumna and Monty Awards for distinguished service in the Field of Public Administration from San Diego State University, received the Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award, and the Vision International University Excellence in Law Enforcement Award.
After graduating from Lincoln High School in Southeastern San Diego, Assistant Chief Armstead obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from San Diego State University. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Kennedy Senior Management Institute for Law Enforcement Executives at Harvard University. She has trained hundreds of criminal justice practitioners, with the goal of continuing to “professionalize the Profession.” She is the Law Enforcement instructor at San Diego State University, and received its Teaching Excellence Award in Criminal Justice for the years 2015, 2016 and 2018. She is an adjunct professor for the San Diego Community College District, where she teaches Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.