WEDNESDAY IS PAJAMA and SLIPPER DAY

Tanya here —  Nice blog title today huh?  

When I first started as a patrol officer I was working with a great shift.  It was one of the sergeant’s on my shift that I want to talk about today.

I won’t name him out of respect for his privacy.  He is not that much older than me but had been on the job about  6 or 7 years when I was hired.  He was smart – REALLY smart.  And dedicated.  Not just to police work but to his crew.  He would actually look for information on the newest case laws and would research things that were effected the world of law enforcement.  He was physically dedicated and trained himself to be prepared for the worst.  He was professional yet fun.

 My shift consisted of a group of brand new officers.  We were green and eager.  Like most rookies – we were what my dispatcher calls “skippy”.   The kind of officer that  is super excited to even go on a lockout because he is driving a police car and looking bad-ass doing it.  One that will jump to take a call for another officer just to go on a call.   Skippy.   Skipping off to a call, traffic stop, arrest… etc.  You get the picture.   

So this nameless sergeant actually took the time to ask each of us before our evaluations what we thought we might want to do in police work.  What was our forte or desire?  Where would we want to be in 5 years – in 10?   What a smart thing to do.. He created police officers who learned to love their work.   

I am not a big traffic enforcer.  I hold no notions or desires of riding a motorcycle and writing 100 tickets a month.  Although – I would like the uniform if the boots had better style 🙂   I am even known at court as someone who rarely writes a citation for traffic – so if they see one they know someone either really pissed me off/nearly ran me over.   I do however, have no problems writing general offense cites or arresting someone.  Ever.  

When I met with my sergeant for evals he never asked me if I wanted to be a traffic girl.  He knew better.  He actually pulled stats to see how many reports I had written and arrests made as well as time spent in pro-active community policing to offset my lack of citations.  He was looking out for me.  When he asked my interests, I was honest.  I said I like forensics.  

Fast forward a few years, and I became a master evidence technician.  That includes over 400 hours of schooling in various forensic “stuff” and I am a qualified expert witness in most of those areas.  I specialize in photography and can shoot the hell out of a scene without any light and never use a flash..  I TEACH classes in those areas (and others) to other police officers.  I actually love the teaching part.  I appreciate the fact that sergeant made me think, work hard and earn respect.  

He was also a sergeant you did not want to make angry.  Although he rarely yelled at his crew – you did not want to disappoint him.  It upset me to think I did.  I think my crew looks at me the same way now.  I think that is good.  It makes you want to work harder.  It helps make you loyal.  I had other good sergeants, some not so good. But these memories – the ones created on this shift – helped shaped me as a LEO.

My point here is two fold.. One –  as a supervisor you have a great responsibility.  Not just to the public, but to your crew.  You can make officers who want to grow and progress. Or you can make them hate the job. and Two –  you can make your crew’s memories with some small gesture.. a pajama and slippers day even. You do not have to be hard-ass at all times. Laughter is a blessing. That is where pajama and slipper day comes in.

 This sergeant knew he had to take officers who were all skippy and focus them.  He knew that working in a suburb is not always the busiest and he kept us busy.  Years later I can honestly say there are very few non-busy days anymore. But back then – One week we had pajama and slipper day.  Pajama and slipper day was a day we all brought in robes and coffee cups and took a picture of us with them on over our uniforms right after roll call.  Sounds silly – but it made the week go by so much faster.  It was funny and I still have my pictures hanging in my locker.  It reminds me that I enjoyed things here once even if on the day I am looking at it — I do not.  It reminds me today will be better and I can be a better boss, a better cop and a better person.

 And for the love of all things sacred — “Wednesday is Pajama and Slipper Day” sounds sooo much better than  “Huummmp DAY!”

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What was the deadliest year for Women LEOs? 

What was the deadliest year for Women LEOs?

Police Memorial Week.  The title itself invokes an emotional response based on the word memorial.  A fellow officer who lay down his life for people he may not even know.  For a worthy, just and righteous cause.   A brother in blue who could have been any of us.   A sister in blue who gave it all.  So sad to think of.  Yet, this week is important for all of us to stop and remember even if it hurts.  Those names engraved on the wall in Washington D.C. deserve that. 

I try and read a story about a fellow officer who died in the past year for every day of Memorial Week.   In particular today I came across the link I have here.  It was a story from what looks to be 2008 about how many female officers died in the line of duty.  2008 was the highest year between 08-14.   15 female officers killed.   The average has historically been well below that for women LEOs.  But in 2008 the average took a big jump and then plunged to 3 in 2009.  Thank God.  What a horrible thing to have the better number in than men.  But there are fewer of us on the job. And at average 10 percent of officers killed each year are women.

When I see a woman LEO who has died in the line of duty, I am forced to think of the struggle she may have had to even GET this job.. to fit in.. to be a part of this brotherhood.   She may have had to prove herself over and over to gain respect.  And to what end?  

Well, with that I tell you that although none of us ever wants to die in the line of duty – there is no great honor than to do it for a noble cause.  We all take this path into police work knowing that no matter where you work, no matter how large or small your department is – no matter how bad the neighborhoods are or how affluent – you run the risk.

You run the risk of not coming home. Ever. Again.  I think of that when I read the memorial pages.   I think they may not have remembered to tell someone this morning they loved them and never left their house thinking it was their last day.   Man or woman – you do not think it could be you.  But it could.   

I made sure to stop today and thank God for another day.   I thanked him for the sacrifice the officers who died in the line of duty gave.  I thanked him that he allowed me to go home safe to my daughter and dogs.  

And then I reminded myself that at 15 plus years on the job, I need to be ever watchful.   Stop and remember that NO CALL IS ROUTINE.  Without being paranoid, we all have to assume the worst until we know it is not.   On EVERY CALL.  On EVERY STOP.   Assume the worst until we know it is not.   Please.  I don’t want the average to jump again next year and more names added to the wall.  I want to go home everyday.  I want you to go home everyday. Male or Female – we have to remember to have each other’s backs.  And to remember those who have had ours.

Stay Safe

– T.

A letter to a man in the uniform industry

Tanya here –  This was my letter to a very important man in the uniform industry when he asked, “What’s the difference with Her BlueWear pants?”

It would be difficult to simply sum up the reasons HBWU pants are a gift to women in law enforcement.  I am not trying to diminish your empathetic abilities but you have never had to go to work in a skirt. (At least I hope not) Although the skirt is an extreme, you can easily use that analogy and understand the meaning behind it. 

 

I knew coming to work as a police officer left me as a minority. I knew I might not even be welcome and I would have to earn my place amongst my peers and the men that already wore a badge around me.  I also knew that my department was not prepared for the differences the gender would require.  What I did not know was how far behind the entire culture and society in police work remained.  Equipment and uniforms were “as they always have been.”  Goodness knows that change would be “expensive” and “what if we (the men) do not like it?” 

 

It is not in my basic nature to sit quietly when I see something I deem unfair.  I would guess that is one of the reasons I am a good officer.  It is usually all I can do to remain politically correct during such times.  Unfortunately, I entered law enforcement as an officer when it was still an unwritten rule that new people just “shut up and work” without complaining.  On top of being new I am a (gasp) woman!   Therefore silence was my only choice because apparently I should have been grateful to have a job in this line of work. 

 

So, I shut up.  And as my time on the job passed, I asked questions about different uniforms to different uniform providers.  Although I have come to know them personally, the people at my local uniform store did not wear the uniforms. Therefore finding one for me that fit properly was not as big a priority to them as it was to me.  They too had fallen into the mindset of “it always has been and is all you can get.” 

 

When Denise listened to me talk about work, she was always interested and cared about what I was doing.  I had not only gained a true friend when she married my brother, but I gained a sister.  She would defend me to the ends of the earth and knew if I was complaining that something needed to be done. 

 

And she did it.  She knows that with all my time in this profession I am experienced enough and intelligent enough to be able to put together what a woman needs and wants in uniforms.  Combine that with her heart and pure stubborn nature when being told something is not possible, and you have the pants I am wearing tonight as I compose this letter.

 

To best explain the difference to you I would ask you to think of wearing a pair of fishing waders compared to your favorite blue jeans. I used to wear body armor the size of a jogging bra that left most of my important organs exposed. The 21 lb gun belt dragged down the waist of my pants so that I not only looked like a clown and felt uncomfortable all day long, but I was unable to do my job to the best of my ability.

 

I LOVE my new pants. I do not dread putting them on everyday for work. I cannot imagine going back to “Man Pants” and having to just tolerate wearing clothing that does not fit. Every female officer and uniform wearing dispatcher I know absolutely loves the pants when they see them and even more so after they wear them.

 

The job has changed.  My body, although older, has not.  I have passed the test of time and excelled at this profession.  It is time the uniforms caught up with me.

 

Stay Safe  – 64