Law enforcement has been facing a lot of backlash these days. After seeing one of my Instagram friends in uniform, I immediately wanted to interview her about her job and experience as a law female enforcement officer in 2020. Due to safety and department procedure measures, she is remaining anonymous. What I can tell you is that she is 24, a police officer (specifically road patrol), and that she sent me a video of her getting tased where she didn’t even scream. Side note: I asked her if she chose to be pepper sprayed or tased and she said she has been tased once and pepper sprayed twice. She would definitely take a tase over a spray, but she did preface that by saying both were incredibly painful. Anyways, enjoy!

What area do you work in? (big city, small city, suburb, etc):

Suburb in Michigan. 30+ square miles comprised of residential and commercial properties. Heavily diverse community with a multitude of different religions and ethnicities.”

When did you know you wanted to go into law enforcement and why?

“I don’t have a cliché story of “I’ve always wanted to do this since I was a kid”. My love for law enforcement stems from my love to be there for people in their time of need. I have been volunteering for over ten years with a family cancer foundation, where I’ve spearheaded my own fundraising endeavors, coordinated large events, and worked in a team environment to help others in need. It has been one of my life’s greatest joys. What other career has a universal telephone number, nationwide, designated specifically to those who are in a time of need? 

I have also always had a deep respect for law and order (and no I don’t mean the television series). There’s something harmonious about the regulation of the actions of all members of society, so that we can all coexist. Sometimes I wish law enforcement was called ‘peace keeping’. That’s the lens I choose to view the police. We are here to maintain the peace, protect lives and property, and encourage people to do the right thing. 

Adding up the aforementioned details, I soon realized that sitting at a desk every day was not for me. I needed to be out in the world helping others. That is how law enforcement became my calling. While the words “law enforcement” quite literally spell themselves out as someone who enforces laws, being a police officer is so much more than that.  I think it is so important to “know your why” — and once you know it, validate it. Never lose sight of it. Align it with your moral compass, and watch yourself flourish in your chosen career.”

How did your family react to you wanting to become an LEO?

“I am the first person in my family to choose law enforcement as a career. To that fact, they were surprised that I chose the career. I have parents and family members who are very supportive of my decision to be in law enforcement. Of course, the natural parental instinct of worry exists. My father will not go a single day that I work without telling me that he will see me when the shift is over. My mother never forgets to tell me to have a good shift and that she loves me.”

What is it like being a female in a male dominated field?

“It definitely takes a strong personality, in my opinion, to be a female law enforcement officer surrounded by men. I am very fortunate to have co-workers and work in a department that respects women in law enforcement. I have never felt deprived of opportunities because I am a female — or at all, for any reason, for that matter. But I believe how you choose to carry yourself as a female professional certainly plays a part. Things like cultivating confidence, learning to not be easily offended, viewing your male counterparts as assets, supporting and uplifting other women in your field… that is how you thrive as a woman, in any career.” 

What are the pros of being a female police officer?

“I once read an excerpt from a female chief of police that read “There can be a perspective which is uniquely female and which is capable of making a nuanced contribution to a rounded and inclusive whole policing service”. I think that the uniquely female perspective can be a huge advantage at times. It should be noted that a police officer’s ability to accomplish job related duties has nothing to do with gender, but we can definitely shed light on some of the “uniquely female” traits that can help. I personally love to hone in on communication skills. Compassion and understanding. As a female, using a nurturing communication approach can go a long way. Each incident is a case-by-case basis, but sometimes children, female victims, or even male subjects are more open with female police officers because of their ability to communicate in a way that is comforting to those to whom they are speaking. It has been stressed to me multiple times in my career thus far that the best tool on a police officer’s belt isn’t any of the tools that are actually on it. The best tool is an officer’s ability to communicate.”

What are the cons of being a female police officer?

“There is often a misconstrued perception associated with female police officers that they don’t have the physical strength required to complete the job. While there are obvious biological differences between male and female, including muscle mass and strength, physical capability is hardly ever an obstacle when it comes to being a female police officer. Revisiting the aforementioned strength of communication, I have found this skill has effectively made up for my size difference every single time.” 

What is the hardest part of your job?

“Learning to problem solve on the spot. Each and every call for help is uniquely different. Police officers have to process incoming, new, sometimes imperfect information and provide an answer or solution in little-to-no time. An officer’s critical thinking skills grow, develop, and get better with time and experience, but there is no crash course on how to handle every incident you’ll encounter in a career’s length.”

How do you handle the aftermath of particularly hard calls? What do you do for self-care?

“As hard as it is, you have to try to not take your calls home with you. Eventually, you become numb to things. Like seeing dead bodies, injuries, poor living conditions, etc. Everything becomes “a part of the job”. You train your mind to be stronger than anything else.

At the same time, I’m a HUGE believer in validating your mind, your feelings, and communicating them. At the end of the day, police officers go home just as they came to work– as humans. We have emotions and feelings just like everybody else. It’s okay to feel upset or sad. It’s okay to have a good cry, or sing along to your favorite sad song in the car on the way home. 

My favorite way to cope is talking to my support system. Once you choose this career, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and your purpose is extremely important. Even if they don’t necessarily understand or relate to what you’re telling them, letting your support system be on the journey with you is a medicine unlike any other. Finding healthy coping mechanisms is key to surviving a career in law enforcement.”

The hostility towards police officers is at an all time high, what has it been like the past couple of months with the tension so high?

“I am fortunate to work in a community that is very supportive of their police force. I’ve been most surprised, however, by the treatment I’ve received from some of my former high school and college acquaintances, including former sorority sisters. Although these individuals knew me before I was a police officer and knew my character and values, once I became a police officer, many began avoiding me and treating me differently. It seems they stopped seeing me as the person they knew. Rather, they began to view me only as a police officer. It is as though many bought into the narrative broadly portrayed by the media that cops are bad people, and therefore, I must be a bad person. It has been hurtful and confusing at times since I really expected the opposite: not all cops can be bad because I know ____________, and she is not a bad person.”

What are some misconceptions about the police that you know aren’t true?

““All cops are bad”. This is simply not factual. The reality is that there are over 800,000 full-time police officers in the United States. If each of those police officers has five contacts with the public per work day (which based on my experience is bare minimum) that equates to 4 million contacts with the police per day. Which is 120 million contacts with the police per month, and 1.4 billion police contacts per year. Out of 1.4 billion police contacts, the media only sheds light on the handful of contacts that would be perceived negatively. 

The endless cycle of negativity toward law enforcement in the media has an effect on the everyday person’s perception of us. I recently saw a statistic that there are roughly 120 negative police-citizen contact videos that circulate the media in one year’s time. 120 out of 1.4 billion. No one sees video footage of the everyday routine calls for officers who comb the streets for someone’s missing pet or child, drive someone to the gas station who ran out of gas, or settle neighbor disputes over tree branches and yard debris. Calls for help because a wild animal got into someone’s basement, the birthday drive-by parade or administering life saving services at the scene of a car accident, cardiac arrest, or someone overdosing on narcotics. 

We cannot solely call police officers “law enforcement” when they do more than enforce the law. The police are called when people need help, even when the actual enforcement of a law isn’t part of the issue. The majority of police officers I know wouldn’t have it any other way because they are called to serve. We are serious about the oath we took, and are passionate in our mission to help others, regardless of the reason someone decided to call upon us.”

What are some things about LEO’s that you wish people knew?

“On a less serious note, I want all people, everywhere, to know that when a police officer is driving behind you, you do not need to decrease your speed to 10mph under the speed limit. 99% of the time, we are not looking to initiate a traffic stop. We are usually heading to a dispatched call or need to use the restroom, and you are preventing us from getting to either of those places in a timely manner.”

On a lighter note, do you have any funny stories from being on the job?

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of calls we get for “turkey in the roadway blocking traffic”. 

I wish a video would surface of a police officer outside of their patrol vehicle assisting a wild turkey across the road… they’re more stubborn than you think.”

And lastly, what would you say to young women who also want to go into law enforcement?

“Don’t hesitate. Law enforcement needs more women who are passionate and steadfast in wanting to make a difference. It is no secret that society associates police work with men, but that doesn’t mean women can’t continue to make positive strides and efforts to increase the current 12% that make up law enforcement. When speaking to young girls, I often think back to a campaign I saw called #LikeAGirl where a company shed light on the fact that doing something “like a girl” has long been used as an insult. I walk like a girl, shoot like a girl, talk like a girl, act like a girl, and am a police officer like a girl, because I am a girl. And in my book, that’s something to be proud of.”

To this officer and other law enforcement officers reading this, thank you so much for your service. It is because of your selfless dedication to protect us that I may live in a safe community and know that I can count on law enforcement.

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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