• Women in Public Safety - Misty Brannan

    By Misty Brannan, Ajdunct Faculty, Public Safety Programs  

    It seemed like a good idea at the time. 

    Choosing a career in public safety  is not to be taken lightly. Public safety is full of rewards, fun, excitement, fulfillment, and a sense of belonging like little else can provide. 

    On the other hand, it is hard work. It is a grueling schedule. It is physically, mentally, and, at times, emotionally draining. 

    Physical Considerations

    After a person survives the physical training during the academy, there is typically a mini-academy conducted at the agency for law enforcement and corrections. Physical training does not end there, however. There are quarterly training requirements to be met every year at every department. Not to mention a person working the law enforcement/correctional fields must maintain high physical agility goals. As an officer, it is expected to physically handle even the most unruly suspect. This cannot be done without continuous, everyday training and health.

    Mental Considerations 

    The job is mentally demanding from time to time. Reports are written every day. Policies change, laws change. There is constant structure and quick thinking which can be mentally draining especially with long days. Agencies work 10- or 12-hour shifts and schedules change regularly. Some agencies even require a switch in shifts every quarter.

    Emotional Considerations 

    Officers often pass along the joke "if you want to be loved, be a fireman." While on the one hand, the badge represents honor, justice, unity, and respect, on the other hand it is associated with a great deal of negativity. Those working in public safety may face cynicism, distrust, and fear. This negativity can take a mental toll and can be emotionally painful. Some find it difficult to be the brunt of skepticism and anger when the first reason he or she became an officer was to help people and make a difference.

    Women and Public Safety 

    There is a t-shirt that says: Never underestimate the power of a woman on a double espresso with a mocha latte chaser high.

    Not sure about the need for a double espresso, but the power of a woman is true enough. Women bring a special set of skills and perspective to the criminal justice field.

    The skills of women in today's field far outweigh the original use in law enforcement. During the mid 1800s, women were hired in New York with the title "matron." The duties of these women were to care for and oversee children and women in the system. In the late 1800s, men and women were separated in the prison system after a female prisoner was assaulted by a male prisoner. This led to the segregation of prisoners and gave matrons a more important role. It wasn't until 1908 when the first woman was hired to be a law enforcement officer. In 1912, the first woman was promoted to detective and ever since women have flourished in this field. (CriminalJusticeSchoolInfo; 2015)

    The fact is women can handle this job and have proven so with success all around the nation. It takes strong women to work in this field but it is worth it. Every day is worth it. The connections and bonds within the officer community are beyond expression. The satisfaction and self-worth gained in this career can be significant. We invite you to explore other articles on this subject and look for future articles for more details.



    Criminal Justice School Info. 2015. Historical Women in Law Enforcement. Retrieved from http://www.criminaljusticeschoolinfo.com/history-women-law-enforcement.html

    Misty Brannan is a faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.

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