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At a time when most women my age are planning for retirement and maybe
taking up hobbies that are a little less aggressive, I decided to go into law
enforcement. Okay . . . . so doing what is expected of me is not my pattern
of life. I enjoy adventures and the more impossible that they seem, the harder I will
tackle them. Basically, it boiled down to the fact that years before, I had missed
my window of opportunity to join the military. I had been a military brat and so
joining the service would have been my wish but I had been a young mother and
had to start work at a young age. I would never change the life I had with my four
wonderful children. However now I was 42 years old and they were all grown up. I
had just found out, through a turn of events, that there was no age limit for joining
the police department. As long as one could keep up with the physical and academic
requirements, then they were welcome to join.
Additionally, I had felt that I was living on borrowed time since I was 15 years
old when I’d come as close to facing the vulnerability of being human as one can do
without passing over to the non-living side. Soon after surviving, I had to face my
own decision of moving on or finishing myself off. I made a choice and it was to live
and to be happy. I wanted my days to count. I wanted to serve others who had gone
through similar experiences. I wanted to lead a life with my head up.
At the time that I applied for the academy, I was a special education teacher
working with young adults who had aggressive and severe disabilities. I was running
an after school Gay, Straight Alliance diversity club and was a mentor to many
students. I had devoted all my life to children and youth. I had been a troubled child
for a variety of reasons. I knew the pains that could come with childhood—many
pains to which children should never have to be exposed. I had always felt that I
had to give back and try to be there for kids and others who could not speak up for
themselves. Doing this was a priority to me.
In addition to my full time teaching job with my school district, I was
volunteering in a couple of capacities with the local Police department. I had first
become a Victim Services Volunteer with them. Victim Services Volunteers are called
at any time of day or night to go out and provide assistance to those who have been
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victimized in some way. I never knew to what kind of call I would be going. It could
be anything from a family member who had woken up to find their loved one had
died during the night, a parent whose young adult child had overdosed on drugs, or a
family whose home had burnt down. Regardless of the situation, the victim or victims
needed support and resources.
As a supplement to our 32 hour training, it was suggested that we do ride-alongs.
I had never heard of a ride-along. A ride-along is literally when you ride along with
an officer to get a taste of what it is like to be out on patrol. You have to sign a waiver
indicating that you understand that there is a certain amount of danger involved but
that you do not hold the police department responsible.
For a mix of reasons, I was rather nervous about riding along in a police car with an
officer. What made me most uncomfortable was the thought that I would have to sit in
close proximity with a stranger. I did not even know if we could talk as I did not know
if it was allowed. I feared it might distract the officers from their duties. Ever so much
into training and wanting to learn all that I could about my new position, I scheduled a
ride-along. I figured that just like with everything else in life, I would get the hang of it
once I was there. I am very straightforward and like things to be clearly understood. I
would have no problem simply asking the officer what was and was not ok.
The officer with whom I was assigned to ride-along with was Officer Gabriel. I
started out our ride-a
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