Police Officer & Forensic Child Interviewer
What made you decide to concentrate on American Cultural Studies?
I spent 5 ½ months at Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission Basic Law Enforcement Academy, learning the basics of what it takes to be a police officer. I graduated president of my class, and was the first female president of an academy class in eight years. I spent another five months working patrol for Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office before realizing I would prefer working in a smaller jurisdiction. I left the Sheriff’s Office and came to Blaine, WA police department where I now work patrol, but have the extra specialized function as a child abuse and sex-crime investigator. I am a certified forensic child interviewer and now love the work I do within a local jurisdiction. It took me some time, but I am finally working with children and youth within a system that needs good officers investigating sensitive crimes.
How did you choose your career/field?
My degree in ACS has helped me work with people from all different backgrounds in very sensitive situations. My ability to speak Spanish has allowed me to assist people who might not know how to navigate something as simple as public transportation to complex legal and civil rights issues. Part of my job as a law enforcement officer is to educate people about the laws and their rights, and I am able to connect cross culturally due to both my personal experiences and formal education.
Reflecting on your time as a student, what was the best/most important/influential part of your experience?
The most influential part of my time at WWU was tutoring Latino youth at a local high school. I spent three of my four years at Western in the same high school ESL class, working with students and tutoring them in various high school subjects. I have always known I wanted to work with kids, and committing to several hours a week working with a small group of students where we learned from each other was an amazing experience. I watched one of my students graduate high school, and he was the first person in his entire family to do so. The second most influential experience I had was studying in Mexico for two months. In Mexico I honed my Spanish speaking skills and learned the histories of people whose patterns of migration include the Pacific Northwest.
What advice would you give to entering or current students?
The advice I would give to entering or current students in the ACS program is to get involved with the local community in Whatcom County. It is easy to consider college as a temporary aspect in the big picture of life, but the fact is you spend minimally four years in a community that you could really give back to and learn from. Get to know who is living in your community, and learn how to reciprocate and contribute to the diversity and experience within it. Volunteer and dive into service learning as much as you can! It will change your life.
Please describe a typical day for you.
The alarm goes off and I can hear the whimpering of my new puppy down the hall. I throw some clothes on and walk her around my neighborhood. When I return, I hop in the shower and prepare myself mentally for a 10-12 hour day on patrol. I put on my pants, bullet proof vest, shirt, and duty belt before getting into the patrol car parked outside my house. I turn on all of my radios, radar and computer on, and then call into service. I drive to Blaine where I know every day at work is a surprise to me. When I get to the office I grab an AED and spike strips and throw them into my trunk. I spend the first part of the morning catching up on any reports left over from the days before, but throughout it all I am ready for anything. I might get dispatched to a collision, theft, burglary, domestic violence or suspicious person call. Or I might have a report from Child Protective Services requesting my assistance in investigating a possible child abuse/neglect case. If someone needs help, I’m ready. If there is a crime to be solved, I am ready for the challenge. I am passionate about working within a system that is not going to go away, but does need good people to work from the inside out to affect positive change.
What does the future hold for you?
I am fortunate to have a loving partner and we are approaching the time where we are considering having a family of our own, and I am excited about the opportunities and experiences to come. In the next five years I hope to promote to Sergeant where I can help lead other Officers and assist them in becoming the best Officers they can be. I have been considering a master’s degree in public administration because I am not sure I want to be subject to working nights for the entirety of my career. For now, I am happy and thankful to have a career that I love where I continue to learn and grow every single day. I am not stuck in an office, but my critical thinking skills are always challenged as the events of every day are a surprise.