This past August, I celebrated my 13th anniversary with theHouston Police Department. I was only 25 years old when I started the police academy and not really knowing what to expect. The only expectation I had was to meet the goals and challenges of pursuing a career I was so passionate about. After thirteen years in law enforcement, the opportunities and experiences I’ve had have exceeded all my expectations.
My first assignment was nightshift patrol at the Westside station with Mondays and Tuesdays off. Days off were determined by department seniority. Needless to say, I was one of the rookies that just got off the probationary program. Wow, I was an official police officer! The first years of being an officer were the most exciting times. Everything was new and I was learning so many different things. The adrenaline stemming from catching the “bad guys” is an experience that all young officers lived for. You were actually making an impact on the community. I lived and breathed police work and was amazed that I was actually getting paid for doing something I loved.
When I first hit the streets, I felt like I had something to prove and that I had to show my fellow officers that I could handle the job. I wanted to demonstrate that I was capable and could do the job as well as any other male officer. I soon realized all the pressure I had placed on myself was from my own expectations and from no one else. I quickly got to know my fellow beat officers and we all worked well together and took care of one another. Don’t get me wrong, just like any other family, we all had our differences and opinions and our share of disagreements. But by the end of the day, we knew we could rely on each other and we made sure we all went home safely at the end of the shift to our families. The special camaraderie we shared was one of the reasons I became an officer, a unique bond and understanding.
Through the years, I came to the realization that I didn’t have to prove my abilities as a police officer to others. I didn’t have to work or try twice as hard because I was a female officer. I learned that I needed to develop my own policing style and that it wasn’t about seeking approval or recognition from others. I learned that police work was about self gratification and that the gratification came from me knowing that I had a positive impact in people’s lives. We are ALL police officers regardless of our gender and we all share a common goal.
I have been fortunate to work in Homicide for the past eight years and it has been such an invaluable experience. I’ve learned from the best homicide investigators and have had great mentors who have guided my career. There were numerous times that we worked throughout the night, nonstop, in order to solve heinous crimes where innocent lives were taken and families were changed forever. All of the hard work, energy, and long hours placed upon the investigations have been well worth it and made my journey within the police department an amazing experience that I would never change. One can never take away the pride we as officers experience together.