Danielle Ornelas

Like most desk-bound employees, Danielle Ornelas starts her day at the office by catching up on her e-mails while drinking a much-needed cup of coffee. But unlike most other office workers, Ornelas’ inbox may include an e-mail from law enforcement, asking her to help solve a murder. “Between the time I go to sleep and the time I get up, a lot of things can happen since we’re a 24-hour operation,” Ornelas explained. “Sometimes I wake up and it’s pretty normal; other times I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to a phone call with somebody letting me know of a fatality.” As the Port of Long Beach’s harbor control center supervisor, Ornelas is tasked with coordinating not only her team of local control center operators, but with assisting law enforcement by providing video footage that can help solve crimes or prevent them from occurring at one of the nation’s busiest ports. The port’s location – facing the open sea – makes it vulnerable, Ornelas said. Its great economic importance as one of the region’s largest sources of employment and as a major throughput for commerce makes protecting it an especially impactful job, she explained. “I feel like this is the closest I can get to serving my community, serving my country, ultimately, if something happens here,” Ornelas noted. “I feel privileged to be able to do this and protect the critical infrastructure down here.” (Photograph by Brandon Richardson)