Inspire women to join the profession and encourage women in the profession to stay.
I’ve been thinking about doing a podcast for If You’re Strong Enough to be a Woman, You’re Strong Enough to be a Cop, for a long time. Just to encourage women to join the law enforcement profession, and to inspire and uplift women who are already apart of the sisterhood. I’ve been in law enforcement for about 21 and a half years, and I’ve definitely have had ups downs throughout my career, but I’ve definitely more ups than downs. I’m still moving forward in the profession with no intentions to stop any time soon. My intentions for the most part, are to encourage people and to remind them that they are valued. Especially our residents and especially our patrol officers. Our patrol officers are the ones doing the work, which I appreciate. Also, my intentions are to have a positive influence within my span of control and make the environment better for those who come after me.
I recently spoke with a young woman who is in the beginning stages of her law enforcement career. She asked me, “What were some of the things you did to assist you in becoming successful.” For those of you who don’t know, I am a Police Captain in a Class A municipality, and I am currently a Patrol District Commander. I told her that it would take me days to explain everything, but I left her with some very important nuggets. So, I’ll share some of those things that I shared with her and some thoughts that came to mind today.
1. Come to work to work. I’ll say it again, “Come to work to work.”
a. I started my career as a paid police aide intern at 18 and was very fortunate to work with people who wanted me to succeed. One of those people was Cassandra Libal. She taught me one of the biggest the rules of the game. Protect your reputation. Come to work to work. Don’t sleep around on the job. You want your reputation to be that of how intelligent and knowledgeable you are, not of how many cops you slept with. She explained that the job was just like high school and that I was a freshman. And what do seniors want? Huh, exactly. Come to work and get your job done. I’ll talk about her, along with Mercedes Cowan little bit more as this series progresses because those were the women who kept me in law enforcement when I wanted to quit.
2. Repetition is key.
a. After I became a police officer and completed field training, I worked as much overtime as I could. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the reps. I knew that if I was going to excel in this career, I couldn’t afford to be afraid to take on different assignments. I didn’t want my fear to hold me back from any future opportunities that may present themselves. Also, I didn’t want to be that cop with 10 years on who didn’t know anything. I wanted to be useful for my community. The best way for me to build my confidence was immersing myself into the work. Was being a patrol officer scary, absolutely, because you don’t know what you were going to be faced with at any given moment. That statement holds the same weight today as it did then. You don’t know what you will be faced with. I just found that learning as much as I could as fast as I could, would lead to my benefit. I would still have a sense of fear depending on what the call was, but I was able to manage it because of reps that I had by taking on a variety of assignments.
3. Allow yourself to make mistakes.
a. I hate making mistakes. I am my worse critic. But I’ve learned more through my mistakes than through my successes. As long as I don’t make the same mistake twice, I’m okay and as long as I don’t make a major mistake, I’m ok. I cannot afford to make the same mistake twice, so I move cautiously in many regards. I’ve learned overtime the importance of not beating yourself up, because the world will do that for you. Instead, you have to build yourself up.
4. Listen to people who have your best interest at heart.
a. I was and am very fortunate to have my mom. She was a police officer before I was, so I knew that I would always get good advice from her. There were other people who gave me good advice as well and guided me in the right direction. I suggest seeking out people whom you can trust, who have good reputations, and then build a network with those individuals so that if you have questions about different assignments, you will be guided in the right direction.
5. Ensure that you are grounded in your faith.
a. I’ve experienced some dark moments in my career; however, I’ve leaned on God to get me through them. There are some things that you don’t get to unsee, or experience, and so through my toughest moments I’ve leaned on God. Ensure that you have some positive outlets, some positive people that you can talk to, and get counseling if you need to. You don’t want this job, with all of its demands to overtake you. Although people look at us as if we are superheroes, we are people.
6. Know that you aren’t doing this job just for you. You are doing it for our community. People need us and want our help, therefore it’s important not to break that trust. Once you put that uniform on it's not about you anymore. A retired Captain, once told me, “You get paid well to do your job, so do your job well.” That has stuck with me for several years. Do your job well, because you're also doing it for those who did it before you and for those who will come after you.
I could keep going, but I gotta save some content for the next episode. Be sure to tune in next time and make sure your like us on Facebook at If You’re Strong Enough to be a Woman, You’re Strong Enough to be a Cop! Sheronda Grant, I’m out!