Archive for the ‘Investigator’ Category

Casino logo

Casino logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the last three days, I’ve been at the Public Safety Writers Association Conference in Las Vegas at The Orleans Hotel and Casino. I delivered a presentation on including the FBI in your novel, and also served on a panel about writing short stories. One of the contributors to our Women Warriors book, Michelle Perin, submitted her story in the writing competition and won! Kudos to Michelle. Her story describing the time when she was a police dispatcher while her police officer husband was involved in a shooting, was both compelling and touching.

Also, another contributor with two stories in the book, Amy MIchalik, won an award for a screenplay she wrote about Mexican drug cartels. She created a documentary that now looks like will possibly be picked up for a movie. Well done Warriors.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the contributors to Women Warriors is Marta Bell. Marta is an ambitious, energetic type, who, even though she has retired, she hasn’t slowed down. She has given me permission to share this email with all of you:

Good evening John,
Just wanted to share some great news with you.  As of June 29, 2012 I officially retired from the Indianapolis Police Department after 29 years of service.
 
Also, I assisted one of our sergeants on the department in writing a Women Empowerment series and we teach from that book in 5 weeks sessions, on depression, domestic violence, substance abuse, bridging the gap with the community and law enforcement etc.
 
And, my own book, One Voice Many Faces, which is part of your Women Warriors series, is now at the editor and on target to be published by October 1st.
 
I am so excited as this will be my first book….and I know you know that feeling, so I can’t wait to experience it.
 
Thanks and blessings.
Marta.
Official seal of City of Newark

Official seal of City of Newark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is your name and department/agency?

Captain Donna Roman Hernandez (retired) – Caldwell Police Department

Caldwell, New Jersey

Please give us a little background about yourself, i.e., family, education, hobbies, etc.

I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey and served with both the Essex County and Caldwell Police Departments during my 28-year law enforcement career.  I graduated from Rutgers University College-Newark Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in criminal justice.  I am a Domestic Violence Police Specialist and Trainer.  My father was an Essex County Constable – peace officer and our family suffered more than 30 years of domestic violence abuse at his hands.   Post retirement I am an award-winning independent filmmaker and the owner of Blue Force Films, a film/video production company specializing in police documentaries, short and feature dramas and law enforcement training videos (www.blueforcefilms.com).  I host a monthly broadband police talk radio show “The Jersey Beat,” (www.thejerseybeat.blogspot.com) and write monthly articles for two New Jersey-based police magazines—New Jersey Cops and NJ Blue Now.

When and why did you decide to become involved in law enforcement?

I entered the law enforcement profession in the early1980’s as a civilian Communications ‘911’ Operator/Dispatcher with the Newark Police Department and knew then it was my calling to help people who were in crisis.  I also wanted to help victims of domestic violence abuse who were suffering in silence like I was.  In the late 1980’s I became a police officer with the Essex County Police Department that was headquartered in Newark—a city I called home.  Unfortunately, my career there came to an abrupt ending in 1990 due to political reasons when more than 200 police officers were furloughed.  Nine months later, I was hired by the Caldwell Police Department where I served 17 years.

What is your present assignment?

In 2007 I retired as a police captain with the Caldwell Police Department.  Then my last assignment was second in command of the Caldwell Police Department and the Patrol Commander.   In addition, I commanded the Domestic Violence Unit, Domestic Violence Response Team and In-Service Training Bureau.  I was the Borough of Caldwell’s Accreditation Manager.

What did you like most about your job?

I loved the diversity of the job and working the road in Patrol; helping people in crisis situations; leading my Police union; the camaraderie I shared with police officers throughout the State; training and mentoring officers; and for the opportunity to know so many nice people and great parents who loved their children and community.  I was a hands-on commander who believed in community policing with a victim-centered approach.  Throughout my 28 years in the Patrol Division, I handled more than 300 incidents of domestic violence and trained more than 400 volunteer members of the Essex County Domestic Violence Response Teams.

What did you like least about your job?

I was the first and only female and minority police officer employed by the Caldwell Police Department and was the first female Caldwell Police PBA union representative.  For many years, I endured a hostile work environment, discriminatory promotional practices and gender-based retaliatory actions from the police chief and several superior officers; and retaliation from the mayor and Borough Council in my official capacity with the police union.  I watched the younger, lesser qualified male officers get promoted ahead of me and consistently was denied training opportunities and assignments.  I disliked the head-butting between our police union and the Borough Council Mayor that occurred each time our union contract expired and new contract negotiations began; and the “good old boys” club that existed within the police department.   In spite of the intimidation, opposition and discouragement I regularly faced on the job, I remained focused on the purpose of my profession and the oath I took to protect and serve.

How did your family feel about you being in law enforcement?

My mother feared for my personal safety but always encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

Do you think the consensus is that law enforcement is a man’s job? If so, have you had difficulty being accepted as an equal?

In the 1980’s there was a perception in New Jersey that women were not as capable as men to work in the law enforcement profession.  Women in law enforcement were unrepresented or underrepresented especially in municipal policing and in the New Jersey State Police.  In the late 1980’s I was one of five policewomen hired by the Essex County Police Department in Newark, New Jersey and we joined a police force of more than 200 male police officers.  In addition, this “man’s job” perception existed in the administration of the New Jersey Department of Personnel Civil Service police entrance written and physical performance examinations.   After I failed the New Jersey Civil Service Police physical performance examination for the Newark Police Department in the late 1970s, I legally challenged the physical agility portion of the exam as the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit brought against the City of Newark and the New Jersey Department of Civil Service.  Another case, theUnited States of Americavs. the State ofNew Jerseyand the New Jersey Department of Personnel, was eventually enjoined with my lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of women and other minorities inNew Jerseywho were discriminated against and denied jobs as police officers, prison guards and sheriff’s deputies.  In January of 1994, a settlement was reached and a Consent Decree was signed which ordered the State of New Jersey to pay $7 million dollars in back pay to all who were affected by the discriminatory practices of the New Jersey Department of Personnel/Civil Service. Finally, victory was mine and the equality in employment question has been answered!

What would you like the public to know about your job?

Law enforcement remains a dangerous profession more so since the terrorist attacks upon our Nation on September 11th.  Daily, police officers are on the front lines defending our communities, states and country.  More than 19,000 of our nation’s law enforcement officers’ have made the ultimate sacrifice and their names are engraved on the memorial walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Women and men who are called to serve as law enforcement officers are our nation’s every day heroes.

If you had to do it over again, would you choose law enforcement as a career?

Yes, I would.  I know that I positively impacted many lives in the communities where I worked and I left the job with many fond memories. Yes, I experienced some bumps in the road as a female and minority officer. However, I persevered and maintained my dignity and integrity throughout my career. The lawsuit I brought against the State of New Jersey and the City of Newark challenging the administration of the police physical performance entrance examination positively changed the landscape for women and minority police applicants, not only in New Jersey but nationwide. When I defended my rights to employment in law enforcement, I did it not only for myself but also for all women and minorities.  I was a part of an historic legal challenge that helped change an ancient perspective that men and women could not be equals on the job.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I believe that every law enforcement officer’s professionalism can be measured by his or her level of personal integrity.  In our increasingly diverse country, officers must draw upon their multi-faceted experiences and extensive life skills daily to protect themselves, their communities and our homeland.   Now there are greater employment and promotional opportunities for women in law enforcement and more factual, intelligent discussions about the importance of women and equality in law enforcement.

 

English: Tulsa Skyline Category:Images of Oklahoma

English: Tulsa Skyline Category:Images of Oklahoma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is your name and department/agency?

My name is Laurel Ledbetter and I work for the Tulsa Police Department in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have been a member of the department since 1996.

Please give us a little background about yourself, i.e., family, education, hobbies, etc.

I grew up in Tulsa and most of my family is still here. I have been married for 12 years and my husband is also a Tulsa Police Officer. We have two children, ages 7 and 5. I was assigned to the case featured in Women Warriors during both pregnancies. I have a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I enjoy playing soccer and running—half marathons are my favorite, and I just started biking. I stay active in my kids’ sports and their school functions.

When and why did you decide to become involved in law enforcement?

As a high school senior, I was required to complete an internship. A friend and I chose the Tulsa Police Department as our internships because we thought it would be exciting (as opposed to a boring law office or hospital). After my first ride along I got the hooked! I went to college with the sole focus on becoming a Tulsa police officer. I began the hiring process one week after my 21st birthday and started the academy one month after graduating from college.

What is your present assignment?

I am a sergeant assigned to Internal Affairs as an investigator.  I have been in this assignment for the last 4 years. I miss the excitement of patrol or narcotics, but this assignment has allowed me to meet the needs of my family.

What do you like most about your job?

The opportunities. I’m able to specialize in a particular interest I may have, or move around to different units to prevent boredom. There are also opportunities to work different shifts, depending on your needs or wants, and a chance to be involved with the community at every level. I enjoy talking to people, and this job allows me to interact with people from all walks of life.

What do you like least about your job?

Currently, it is the mounds of paperwork. Work schedules are very tough for a two-officer family.  Sometimes there are several days in a row when I don’t see my husband.

How does your family feel about you being in law enforcement?

I am the first one in my family to choose law enforcement as a career.  Most of them are supportive, but some were skeptical; regardless, they have all learned to accept it. My family and friends love to hear my stories.  My mom still calls to ask why the police helicopter is flying over her house, even though she knows I’m not at work.

Do you think the consensus is that law enforcement is a man’s job? If so, have you had difficulty being accepted as an equal?

The fact is there are definitely more men than women in law enforcement. I have seen very little inequity in my 16 years. For the most part, if you are a smart, hardworking and talented officer, that is all anyone cares about, not whether you are a man or a woman. There are just as many male officers as female officers that I would not want by my side going into a confrontation or other dangerous situation.  It doesn’t matter what gender you are, if you’re not competent you don’t need to be in law enforcement.

What would you like the public to know about your job?

Police officers are human.  We have feelings. We have good days and bad days.  We get angry.  We get happy.  We get excited about some things. We get hungry. We get tired.  Most importantly, we care.  And the majority of police officers care about you—the public.

If you had to do it over again, would you choose law enforcement as a career?

Yes. It has been enjoyable, rewarding and especially challenging. I would love to be a naïve rookie again; those days were the best, when I wanted to work 24/7.  However great my job is, I also look forward to the day I can retire from law enforcement and pursue another interest or career.

Is there anything additional you’d like to share?

I am thankful that my story was accepted and included as part of this book.  I am even more honored to be featured with such tremendous women who have experienced great success in such a noble position.

What is your name and department/agency?

My name is Shannon Leeper. I am a detective with the Lenexa, Kansas Police Department.

Please give us a little background about yourself, i.e., family, education, hobbies, etc.

My family roots are in the DEEP south, but we moved to Lenexa, Kansas in 1980, so I consider it “home.”  I graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, with a Bachelor’s Degree in the Administration of Justice, in the spring of 1997.  During my last year of college, I completed an internship with the Johnson County, Kansas District Attorney’s Office, working for a judge in the juvenile division.  My original plan was to pursue law school, but as luck would have it plans changed. I applied for a job with the Lenexa Police Department and began a career in law enforcement instead. I am married with two AMAZING little girls, ages 6 and 2. My hobbies include photography, writing, dance, and working out.

When and why did you decide to become involved in law enforcement?

I had actually been working in the public library system for about six years when I decided to put my college degree to good use. So, in the fall of 1998 I applied for a civilian position, as a station officer, with the Lenexa Police Department. I enjoyed the work, but soon realized there were more opportunities available to me as a sworn police officer. It wasn’t long before I was graduating from the police academy (first in my class) and hitting the streets of Lenexa in a black and white.

What is your present assignment?

I have been assigned to the Investigations Division, as a detective, since January 2005.  I primarily investigate crimes of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence.

What do you like most about your job? 

Every day brings new challenges and opportunities to actually make a difference, especially with the most vulnerable victims and their families.

What do you like least about your job?

It is quite possible to juggle the responsibilities of a career in law enforcement with motherhood and to do both well, despite what some may believe. It can be difficult though, and the guilt associated with not always being able to be in two places at once is hard. Obviously, things happen, and what starts as an eight hour work day can quickly turn to into a 12-16 hour work day. This is why it is so important to have the strong support of family and friends to step in during those times I have to be away.

How does your family feel about you being in law enforcement?

My family has always been extremely supportive, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of worry.  This was especially the case when I was a new patrol officer and my mother would hear police sirens nearby, while I was on duty. It wasn’t uncommon to take phone calls from her asking what was happening, if I was involved and if things were okay. Now that I am a mother, I can only imagine how many more times she wanted to call, but refrained. I am also blessed to have an understanding and encouraging husband and extended family that is proud of the work I do. With an unpredictable schedule, I often rely on the help and support of family and friends.

Do you think the consensus is that law enforcement is a man’s job? If so, have you had difficulty being accepted as an equal?

Unfortunately, I do think the overall consensus is that law enforcement is a man’s job, but I hope the tide is starting to turn. Women who decide to pursue a career in this field must quickly learn what they need to do in order to be successful and gain acceptance among peers. Every woman I know in law enforcement has experienced some difficulty, at one point or another, based on gender. The good news is I have many female friends in law enforcement, so we have not been deterred! Women DO face unique challenges in this line of work, but we also bring an abundance of unique qualities and skills that can’t be ignored. I am fortunate to have the leadership of a female chief of police, who brings over 30 years of experience and guidance to the table.

What would you like the public to know about your job?

Often times, I am asked about the “best,” “scariest,” “saddest,” case I have ever worked.  I think it is a natural curiosity public exhibits, especially with the type of cases I generally work. It is hard for the public to understand why I can’t come up with an answer. You see, every day brings new experiences and opportunities to peek into the lives of others. This is very personal for victims and I take something away from each encounter, both good and bad. Those of us in law enforcement see things on a daily basis that are foreign to most people. It really is difficult to explain what makes a particular case better or worse than another. There are definitely cases and people who leave more of a mark or impression, like Dakota Smith, whom I wrote about in the book, but that doesn’t make the other cases less important.

If you had it to do over again, would you choose law enforcement as a career?

I feel like this career in law enforcement actually chose me instead of the other way around. I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a police officer. Circumstances in my early life definitely pushed me in this direction, without me even realizing it at the time. Now that I am here, it is hard to imagine spending the past 14 years doing anything else.

Is there anything additional you’d like to share?

It has been an honor to be part of such an amazing project, highlighting women in law enforcement! I hope our stories provide a bit of insight into our world.

Seal of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, T...

Seal of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after it moved to the Department of Justice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is your name and department/agency?

Jo Ann Kocher – I am retired from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (now known as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). In June 1972, I had the honor of being sworn in as ATF’s first woman special agent.

Please give us a little background about yourself, i.e., family, education, hobbies, etc.

I grew up in Queens, New York, the only child of a widowed mother. From my early years, I dreamed of being a teacher. During my last semester at St. John’s University, I had to complete student teaching. It was then that I discovered that a teaching career was not for me. I did get my Masters Degree in Speech Education, not sure exactly where it would lead me. In 1969, I began working for a supplemental airline as a customer service agent and later station manager at JFK Airport. The job was exciting with great travel benefits. It also exposed me to new situations, which were far removed from my relatively sheltered background. Little did I know that it was preparing me for the next phase of my life.

When and why did you decide to become involved in law enforcement?

I never really considered a career in law enforcement until a chance encounter with a high ranking official of the U.S. Treasury Department on a plane resulted in my recruitment to be the first woman ATF special agent. The law prohibiting women from carrying firearms in federal law enforcement positions changed in 1971 and most agencies were seeking qualified women to join their ranks. A series of interviews in Washington, DC and New York followed and I was hired. It would be two years before ATF hired the second woman agent and she was stationed in San Francisco. Two years after that, the third and fourth ATF women agents came on board.

What is your present assignment?

I am retired after a 26 ½ year career which spanned assignments in New York, ATF Headquarters, Honolulu and San Francisco. I was the first woman agent to become a supervisor when I was named the Resident Agent in Charge in Honolulu in 1982. Despite fears that a woman would not be accepted there by other law enforcement agencies, and strong opinions by a few ATF managers that women should not supervise male agents. I retired in 1999 after serving as Assistant Special Agent in Charge in San Francisco for three years.  I returned to my beloved Hawaii and now do background investigations for ATF as a contractor.

What did you like most about your job?

I love retirement and look back at my career with many fond memories. I will always treasure the bonds I formed with my co-workers and still keep in touch with many of them. One of the unique advantages of law enforcement is the camaraderie that permeates throughout the agency, especially with those who have shared dangerous or otherwise memorable assignments.

What did you like least about your job?

I have always had a hard time dealing with the negative publicity ATF has received based on a few investigations or incidents. The hard working men and women are almost never recognized for their numerous accomplishments.

How did your family feel about you being in law enforcement?

They were very proud of me. I have cousins who are/were in law enforcement on the federal and local level so they understood the situation best. I do admit that I never told my mother much about what the job actually entailed to spare her concern about my safety.

Do you think the consensus is that law enforcement is a man’s job? If so, have you had difficulty being accepted as an equal?

When I started in 1972, it was definitely the consensus that law enforcement was a man’s job. That has changed for the better over the years as co-workers and the public have come to realize the valuable role women play. Years after I retired, a friend told me that, on the day I was sworn in, another agent in his office sneered when he declared, “She’ll never last.”  I proved him wrong.  At first, I sat at my desk because everyone was afraid to work with me for fear I would be injured and they would be blamed. The search warrant in the story I submitted to Women Warriors was the turning point for me. My colleagues realized I could do the job.

When I applied to be the Resident Agent in Charge in Honolulu in 1982, I had to overcome stereotypes of how a woman heading the local office of a federal agency would be accepted. I was very fortunate to have had the support of several top managers at ATF who were willing to take a chance on me.

What would you like the public to know about your job?

I don’t think the public realizes how closely some federal agencies work with state and local police entities. During my career with ATF, we enjoyed strong relationships with local officers who often provided valuable information, assisted on search and arrest warrants and worked together with us to keep the community safe.

If you had to do it over again, would you choose law enforcement as a career?

Definitely! It was rewarding, exciting at times, full of opportunities and left me with wonderful memories.

Anything additional you’d like to share?

I am writing a book about my experiences as ATF’s first woman agent so that young women will get a glimpse into the world of law enforcement when women entering the field were pioneers and set the course for future generations.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Seal

Federal Bureau of Investigation Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

What is your name and department/agency?

Phyllis MacLean Sciacca – FBI

Please give us a little background about yourself, i.e., family, education, hobbies, etc.

I was born and raised in Mineola, NY (Long Island).  My father worked for Eastern Airlines, so I started traveling at an early age and love to go places (I have traveled to all the continents).  I went to Stetson University, a small Baptist college in DeLand, Florida, and majored in accounting.

When and why did you decide to become involved in law enforcement?

J. Edgar Hoover had just died, and the FBI hired their first female agent the week before I graduated from college.  I read an article in the Style section of a local paper and decided that was the job for me.  Up until then law enforcement had never crossed my mind.  The only two jobs I applied for were flight attendant and FBI agent. I got turned down for the job of flight attendant – go figure.

What is your present assignment?

Retired.

What did you like most about your job?

I loved every day of my job.  I went into work with a plan for the day and many days that plan fell by the wayside as a new case came my way.  No two days were ever the same.  When you ask most people about their job they say “same old, same old.”  You can never say that about the FBI.

What did you like least about your job?

The only problem with the job concerned the family/friend events that had to be missed because of a new case.

How did your family feel about you being in law enforcement?

My husband was also an FBI agent which made things a lot simpler at home.  When a call would come late at night and I’d put on my gun to go out the door, he never complained.  He knew the routine.  If the call wasn’t for me it was probably for him.  I don’t know how people with small children do it.

Do you think the consensus is that law enforcement is a man’s job? If so, have you had difficulty being accepted as an equal?

Most people when they are scared or afraid are comforted when a big strong man comes to their aid.  After a brief let down they realize a woman is sometimes more sympathetic to their situation.  I initially had difficulty being accepted by my colleagues who were my own age.  The older the agent was, the more accepting they were of female agents.  I have always said that you don’t need to be big and strong to do this job.  You just have to have an attitude.  As my husband will tell you…I have an attitude!

What would you like the public to know about your job?

Someone once said that a hero is just someone who was too afraid to run away.  Being in law enforcement is sort of like that.

If you had to do it over again, would you choose law enforcement as a career?

Absolutely!

Is there anything additional you’d like to share?

Always be a live wire and you‘ll never get stepped on!