Jaded

I get asked quite often by civilian women what it’s like working in a predominantly male dominated field.  To be honest?…..I wouldn’t change it for the world and here are my top ten reasons why…..

  1. They don’t care about what you look like as long as you can do your job.  (This means you can wear NO makeup, throw your hair up in a neat or not so neat bun, not have to worry about what to wear that day because you all look the same, and if you skip a day washing your uniform, it’s ok.  You all smell like the same disgusting, sweaty, rotten ballistic vest anyway).
  2. Get into an argument and five minutes later everything is fine as you go take your meal break together.  (Men don’t hold on to things like women do. Grudge? What grudge?)
  3. Go ahead and tell that down right foul joke between calls. (More than likely, he can’t tell or share said joke at home with their respective spouse without getting a disgusted look…..so share away!)
  4. Working alongside so many men, has a tendency to desensitize you.  (Ladies, this is not a bad thing. It helps you train for those uber emotional times of the month and can actually make you seem more even tempered).
  5. Yeah…..I’m gonna eat that. (Portion control is non-existent when you work with men.  They actually think it’s funny if you can ‘out eat’ them at the local buffet).
  6. You can let your hair down, literally.  Don’t worry about suppressing that burp or holding back when you have flatulence. (News flash, they don’t care and will more than likely invite you to compete in the annual body noise Olympics).
  7. You’ll be in the best shape of your life.  (Men will push you physically beyond your limits. Plain and simple, you don’t want to be ‘that girl’ who comes in last).
  8. You’ll become a professional, verbal judo ninja in a matter of no time when you work with men.  (No more taking back sass ladies.  If they can dish it, so can you. Making them blush is a good thing).
  9. Men can sometimes be the BIGGEST whiners.  (A scratch can equate to the dramatics of an amputated limb).
  10. Last but not least, you’ll get to learn cool public servant techniques like changing flat tires, jumping dead car batteries, and how to physically push a vehicle out of a roadway all by yourself. (Why is this important? Brownie points….all around.  What guy wouldn’t be impressed with those skills?)

Keep in mind, this is MY top ten list. I’m sure the more women you speak to in Law Enforcement, will have much more to add!  These are my observations and in no way, shape or form, represent the entire male police officer population, so no one get their panties in a wad.  Who’s jaded now?

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Circus Act

I remember one shift years ago during the wee hours, responding to a ‘suspicious person’ call.  Now a suspicious person could literally be anyone or anything. It might be a kid walking down the street, or a news paper delivery person, or some loon ready to take a flying leap from a bridge, or a raccoon wreaking havoc on your garbage can. You just never know.  In this instance, it appeared to be a highly intoxicated weekend warrior trying to get from here to there.  Once said warrior was properly identified, they were called a cab and safely sent on their way.  Often times late at night like this, when a call has come to an end, the officers that handled said call, might hang around for a bit chewing the fat, and stretching their limbs.  Sitting in a patrol car for a 12 hour shift wearing 28 to 30 pounds worth of gear, tends to put a strain on, regardless of your physical conditioning.

As a few of us banter back and forth telling our woes for the night, I notice a woman standing across the street from the parking lot where we were congregating.  She donned a long pink mumu and a net loosely covered a pile of curlers on top of her head. Her swollen ankles overflowed out of an extremely worn pair of slippers and she anxiously shuffled back and forth looking at us with an aggravated scowl. Before long, we all turned our heads as she growled: “Yooooooou whoooooo! Officers?……is everything alright?”  If we had a dollar for every time we were asked this question, we wouldn’t need pensions.

The three of us scurried across the desolate road, inadvertently corralling the woman onto the sidewalk.  “Hi Ma’am…..what can we do for you?” Looking annoyed, she barks: “Well……I just want to know why at three o’clock in the morning, there are three police officers here.  Are we in danger or something? What’s going on?”  As I go to open my mouth to give her the generic, everything is fine, don’t worry, go back to bed answer, my buddy glances back across the road to the parking lot where our patrol cars are.  One weekend a year, we have a traveling circus that comes to our city as a fundraising event for children. I can see him looking at all of the circus trailers, abandoned kiddie rides and small petting zoo area normally filled with common barn animals.  With a snarky grin, he replies: “Actually M’am it’s not O.K…..there is a Gorilla on the loose.  We got a call a little while ago that this Gorilla escaped from the traveling circus right here across the street. We were told it’s a very large purple Gorilla that was eating a banana. Extremely dangerous.”  Sheer terror now dances across the woman’s face as her jaw drops and she mutters: “Oh!……oh my God!……is it still on the loose?”  I can hardly contain the bellowing laugh that is trying to escape me.  “M’am the best thing to do….is go back inside and watch for the Gorilla, ok? If you see it, call right away to report it”.  The woman is already walking back towards her apartment as she seems to be sputtering curse words under her breath. As we watch her break into an awkward sprint, we can’t contain the hysteria any longer.  I laughed that night harder than I had in years!

We all piled into our respective vehicles thanking each other for the laugh.  I realized how important it is especially in this career, to laugh.  We can’t be serious all of the time and it really is alright to have fun when you can.  This was a circus act we will never forget!

What crazy person would want to do this line of work anyway?

Ever since I’ve been a little girl, I’ve been an adrenaline junkie. I was fascinated by anything that had flashing lights and involved uniforms.  I would stare in awe as a fire truck rushed by, or as a police officer entered a restaurant I’d be eating at with my family.  I thought to myself that it would be amazing to one day have all that power to do SO much good with!

Helping people has always been my strong point.  It’s what I am good at and it’s what keeps me focused.  All throughout my childhood, I kept it in the back of my mind that someday, if I kept myself out of trouble and earned good grades in school, I would be a police officer.  I kept that promise to myself.  I worked hard in school, I earned good grades, I was athletic, and I stayed out of trouble…..for the most part.  After college, I worked numerous jobs; from managing a popular car rental store, to bartending and waiting tables, to working the graveyard shift in a local hospital.  I learned early on how to stand on my own two feet and financially support myself.

I was fortunate to grow up in a household where my parents never limited my abilities or stifled my potential just because I was a girl.  I was never told: “No, you can’t do that because you are a girl”, or “Little girls don’t become Firefighters or Police Officers”.  My parents allowed me to be me.  If I told them I wanted to be an Astronaut and fly rocket ships and discover new planets, they’d have said: “Good for you! Go for it!”

I am truly blessed that I grew up believing that I could be anyone I wanted to be, and that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do.  Limits in that respect, didn’t exist.  By the time I was 28 years old, I had worked enough jobs, some two and three at a time to make ends meet, that I felt it was time to take myself more seriously.  I realized I had to settle down with a career and do something constructive with my life and my fancy college degree.

When I was hired by my respective agency and given the good news that I was going to be sponsored through the Police Academy, I was elated!  I had no clue what to expect and I didn’t care.  What I did know, was that this was my one and only chance to become a Police Officer.  There was no going back, there was no quitting, there was no question in my mind that this was what I wanted to do for the next twenty plus years of my life.  Before starting the academy, many people asked me if I was scared.  I would answer: “Scared of what?”  I really was perplexed.  If I was scared, why would I choose law enforcement as a career?  I’d bite my tongue of course and not let those words spill out of my mouth.  Instead, I’d say: “I’m not scared, I’m excited.  I foresee everyday as an adventure.  That’s not scary….that’s fun!”  Folks would grimace and look at me like I had ten heads when I came back with that answer.  I remember one woman who was a regular customer of mine in a restaurant I was working in at the time, say to me as I put her plate of food down before her: “What crazy person would want to do that line of work anyway? You’ll get yourself killed”.  I smiled sweetly and shrugged it off.  When I returned with her bill, I leaned down and whispered: “The kind of person who runs towards danger when you run away.  The kind of person who would pull you from a burning car, the kind of person who would take a bullet for you so you didn’t have to. That kind of crazy person”.  She looked at me, her eyes heavy with embarrassment and mumbled: “God Bless you dear….you are of a rare breed”.  She waved as she left the restaurant and it dawned on me that the person I’m becoming, is about to change more lives than I realized.

Disclaimer

Everyone tells me what I’m pretty sure every cop or deputy has heard numerous times over the course of their careers: “You should write a book.”  Well, this isn’t a book, but rather a place to document, capture and share what some of us may go through in the course of 20, 30 or more years working in the Law Enforcement field.  It’s been created for you, the reader, to see the world through a police officer’s eyes.

I am writing under a fictitious name and I will not divulge my location or where I work. I respect my department and believe that preserving the integrity of all involved, is proper, necessary and fair.  What’s depicted through my writing, is based upon real events and occurrences.  Names, dates, times and locations have been changed to protect all those written about.