Angelia Myles thinks of herself as "just a typical female" with an atypical job.
"I'm afraid of bugs and I love to shop in the mall," she said. But she has no fear of flying.
Myles, 30, is the only female helicopter pilot in the five-member Air Support Squad of the Compton Police Department. She is part of a handful of female police officers in the Los Angeles area working as helicopter pilots or training to become pilots.
Myles started flying with the Compton unit in 1988, a year after the squad was organized to help fight crime in the city of more than 86,000. A graduate of Compton High School, Myles became a Compton police officer shortly after receiving a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Cal State Long Beach in 1982. She worked on patrol and in the narcotics unit before deciding to become a pilot.
Myles said she became interested in flying about three years ago, when two officers were shot and wounded during a narcotics raid. "A sheriff's helicopter landed on a lawn without knocking over a flower pot. Within minutes the wounded officers had been picked up and taken to the hospital," Myles said. "I needed a new challenge, and I knew that was it." She applied for a position with the Compton air unit, and finished among the top three candidates in an oral examination. She and another applicant were selected.
Myles works the night shift, where she gets involved in various police actions ranging from routine patrol to high-speed chases. Officer Jack McConnell, a 23-year veteran with the department and Myles' observer, said she "is an excellent pilot and a good cop. I trust her."
Her mother, Lorraine Myles, said she always hoped her daughter would choose a safer line of work, but understands the source of her daughter's "adventurous" spirit. Two of Angelia Myles' uncles and several cousins have worked in law enforcement, and her former husband was a Compton police officer.
Nine Southeast area residents were among 13 people honored last week by Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner with the Courageous Citizens Award for bravery and heroism.
Reiner, who presented the awards during a luncheon at the Long Beach Superior Court, praised the recipients for showing courage and taking the time to help others.
Naomi Sherfield, 42, and two daughters, Chrystal, 11, and Lisa, 20, of Cerritos received awards for helping a young man who was being stabbed and beaten by a gang in Long Beach on April 21. The assailants fled when the family screamed and yelled at them. The Sherfields then helped the victim into the family car and remained with him until medical help arrived.
Norwalk resident Kenneth Murphy, 38, chased a man and a woman in his pickup after they robbed a bank in the city March 20 and drove off. During the 80-m.p.h. pursuit, Murphy used a two-way radio to call his wife, who alerted sheriff's deputies. They joined the chase and arrested the bank robbers.
Long Beach residents Natalie Bower, Manuel Nunes, Michael Kisting, Rick Lavezzo and Mark Likowski also received awards. Last November, Bower, 29, chased a man who stole a woman's purse. The suspect escaped, but Bower provided a description to police, who later arrested the man. On Oct. 25, 1989, Nunes, 34, chased and caught a man who had stolen a woman's purse. Nunes, a jogger, held the suspect until Long Beach police arrived. In May, Kisting, 22, Lavezzo, 23, and Likowski, 34, captured two men who were breaking into cars behind their apartment building.
The state's Hispanic American Family of the Year for 1989, the Armando Moreno family of La Mirada, was honored last week at a White House reception hosted by First Lady Barbara Bush. Moreno; his wife, Cathi, and a daughter, Jenni, attended the reception, along with families who won similar awards in Texas, Illinois and Florida. A son, Alex, 23, and a daughter, Debbie, 17, are attending college.
Model families are selected each year from the four states by the Hispanic American Family of the Year Foundation, based in North Hollywood.
Armando Moreno is vice president of urban affairs with Glendale Federal Bank, and is a member of the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District Board of Education. Cathi Moreno is a secretary in the district's curriculum department. She is also one of the choir directors for the Beatitudes of Our Lord Catholic Church, which the family attends.
A $4,000 scholarship from the foundation has been placed in a trust fund toward Jenni's college education. She is in the eighth grade at La Mirada High School.
Material for this column may be mailed to Lee Harris, Los Angeles Times, 12750 Center Court, Suite 150, Cerritos Towne Center, Cerritos 90701 , telephone 924-8600.