Yesterday I had the great honor of being a member of a panel of women speakers at an Auburn Hills, Rochester Chamber of Commerce event
called “Women Tell All…Almost.” I am frequently called upon to speak about policing topics which I enjoy doing very much. This time was different because I had to talk about myself in a more personal way. That was much more of a challenge. Generally I don’t like to do that because my job isn’t about me–it is about the police department and the community. My fellow panels were Nancy Susick, President of Troy Beaumont Hospital and Sharon Miller, Vice Chancellor of External Affairs at Oakland Community College–truly distinguished individuals. It was interesting to hear their life story and how they got where they are now.
There were some themes among all of us–one was that we agreed that we never look back at the road not taken; we draw support from family and friends; you can have your life planned out but things just happen and you have to take detours; never stop working toward your goals.
I hope that my story can help someone who is working, caring for a family and trying to make it professionally see that you can survive and flourish and so can your family. I wanted to explain that how I got into this work at all was really a result of great forces of the times – the 1964 Civil Rights act which prohibited discrimination in the workplace benefited me personally because police departments could no longer keep women out just because they wanted to. The 1968 Kerner Commission studied the civil disorder of the 1960’s and made recommendations to communities on how they could change with the times and one of those changes was to improve policing. The federal government then put dollars behind those recommendations to make it happen. Police had to diversify, become more educated, and for the first time there was money to fund studies about police and communities to understand what went wrong and help it go right. I was a high school and college student when these changes started rolling and I wanted to be part of making the world a better place. But it wasn’t simple and it wasn’t easy. And I met plenty of resistance along the way.
I know I am the same idealist I was when I started way back when–good policing contributes to good communities. I’m still trying to perfect that idea.
It was an honor and a privilege to participate in the event. Thank you to the Auburn Hills and Rochester Chambers of Commerce for the opportunity.