“ A LOT OF THE TIME YOU’RE SMILING AT SOMEONE, WHILE IN THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD YOU’RE ASSESSING HOW YOU WOULD KILL THEM IF YOU HAD TO. IT’S THREAT ASSESSMENT.”
“I’M TINY, BUT ANY OF THE GUYS WHO HAVE EVER BEEN IN FIGHTS WITH ME KNOW BETTER.”
“YOU HAVE TO HAVE A JACK RUSSELL TERRIER MENTALITY, LIKE ‘I WEIGH 20 POUNDS, BUT I THINK I WEIGH 300 POUNDS.’ IT’S ALL ABOUT HOW YOU CARRY YOURSELF. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A COMMANDING PRESENCE.”
“I SERVED IN DESERT STORM–FOUGHT IN A WAR AND LIVED IN SAUDI ARABIA FOR EIGHT MONTHS. IT WOULD TAKE A LOT TO SCARE ME.”
“I CAN GET IN A FIGHT WITH THE BEST OF THEM. I’M NOT SCARED TO AND THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE.”
“WE’RE ALL ADRENALINE JUNKIES–WE LIKE THAT HIGH, THE WEIRD. WERE CURIOUS. WE LIKE THE THRILL.”
“I WANT GIRLS TO KNOW THIS IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO, THAT IT’S A REALITY–THAT IT’S WITHIN REACH.”
Would you want these speakers to baby-sit your kids? Not to worry, the preceding quotes are just a couple of ladies describing their roles as Boise cops. Young is Sgt. Danielle Young and Harr is officer Diedra Harr.
We read their profiles in the hip Statesman clone of the Boise Weekly called THRIVE! The story was by Erin Ryan and it will be interesting to see if she gets any heat from the cops for taking the quotes “out of context.”
It will also be interesting to see if any heat comes down on the lady cops who have backed themselves into a corner with their remarks. They can claim misquote, out of context,” just girl talk” and they really don’t plan how to kill when smiling at someone.
The story was presented possibly as a recruiting effort like, “Here are a couple of role models for girls.” The GUARDIAN doesn’t think it did much to help the image of women OR the BPD. In fact, the story confirms a lot of cop stereotypes and we find it disturbing if true.
Click below to judge for yourself and let us know what you think.
THRIVE LADY COPS
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Apr 1, 2006, 8:22 am
There is a uniqueness in the vulnerability women feel in a physically threatening job (i.e. police work) that is difficult for anyone but a slight built woman to comprehend. There are also psychological tolls taken by the work itself. Stereotypes are what they are for a reason. While all officers can’t be shaken indiscerably from the same bag…after years in the profession, there are bound to be marked similarities. Ms. Young is a hard-charging, intelligent, observant woman. She is also compassionate, feminine and possesses all the “sweet” qualities looked for in women throughout time. Those qualities have a place in police work. Unfortunately, that place appears rarely and is shortlived. Inasmuch as they deal with respectable citizens having a bad moment, they also deal with the nastiest side of humanity. We can’t forget that just because it doesn’t include us. If you are 5’1″ tall and weight a whopping 110lbs….you better be able to get a good bluff in, or prepare to be beaten bloody. A good many women rely on their verbal skills, and that’s good thing. I expect many male officers who aren’t the physical types feel the same way, but would be hard pressed to verbalize it. I guess I didn’t come away from this read with any specific bad feelings about law enforcement and it didn’t reinforce any stereotypes for me. Perhaps what we should be repulsed by in this story is: That BPD promoted its first female Sgt. in 2001 (after having women on the dept. for 30 or so years); that women feel “neon”; that female officers’ perception is that they have “sick puppy syndrome”; and, that they feel they have to adopt a machismo in order to be successful. That, to me, is far more disturbing and worth a good pondering.
Apr 1, 2006, 11:24 am
How have these quotes “backed them into a corner?” I don’t see anything here that is cause for alarm.
Apr 1, 2006, 12:37 pm
When I was raising my two girls I taught them not to take any nonsense off anyone. Women who don’t stand up for themselves become victims like that poor woman in Canyon County whose husband killed her when he was released from jail. She had a restraining order – she should have had a gun.
I admire anyone, male or female, who has the strength and temperment to be a cop. I like all of them to bring common sense and a good attitude to the job. Criticizing these women for being tough would be just ignorant, in my humble opinion.
Apr 1, 2006, 1:49 pm
Ego, attitude, puffed up. What about help, understanding and empathy? Violence is about 1% of the job. What about the other 99%?
Apr 2, 2006, 3:14 am
Re hoping they don’t really think about how you would kill someone if they had to, while smiling and talking with someone.
Well, I hope they do.
I’ve never been a cop, but, even as a reporter, when I was interviewing a guy the cops were hunting as a possible serial killer (I found him even though they couldn’t), and while intervewing a convicted murderer (different guy), and in various other situations, I had a “what if?” in the back of my mind — what if this guys turns on me? What would I do?
I wasn’t armed, but still had to have the mental preparedness to defend my life if it became necessary. (Fortunately, it never did, in those particular situations.)
I think it’s much like driving on a freeway — lots of lanes, fences along the sides, nowhere to go — What if? … the cars in front of me spun out, or one beside me started moving over toward me, etc. I’m always on the lookout for a way out.
On other than freeways, of course, it’s easier — you usually can go off the road somehow. I once drove into a canal rather than let a large truck hit me head-on. Another time, three cars passing me got into a wreck — I did a hard right, went through an irrigation ditch and a fence, and stopped out in a field. A cop walked out to me and asked, “Were you involved in that wreck?” I said, “No.”
Cop said, “Then what are you doing out here?” I said, “I didn’t want to be involved in that wreck.”
He accepted that, checked my ID, and went away.
In other words, I think every cop, car driver, etc., should be aware of all the possibilities and have a “what if” plan in mind for any eventuality. And, for a cop, the possibilities always include that the person he or she is talking to might be a nutcase who suddenly will whip out a gun or a knife or whatever,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Apr 3, 2006, 8:19 am
Actually, it doesn’t sound that bad to me. What do you think they’d say? “In my free time I like to knit and do my hair.” Come on, man. You’re sounding a tad bit chauvinistic in this post.
Apr 3, 2006, 8:47 am
The statements given by these brave women officers are very similar to another group of people who might say the same thing about their job: TEACHERS…. See you on the playground!!!
Apr 3, 2006, 9:07 am
I am still scratching my head over this observaiton in the Thrive article: “the 37-year-old mother of two still has the energy, attitude and grit it takes to be a lady cop in a state known for its conservative social and professional mores. But that doesn’t mean she’s afraid to wear bright red nail polish on patrol.”
In other words, in wild-west Idaho if you are a butch woman it’s not acceptable? Or maybe it’s OK if you wear red nail polish? I heard a woman cop speak at a meeting on immigrant rights who also was deputy chief in Minneapolis. She talked about “protect and serve” and treating immigrants as human beings; not many adreniline junky references. Why would the Statesman want to publish an alterate weekly? Isn’t one enough? And what a silly name for a publication — Thrive — sounds like a vitamin.
Apr 3, 2006, 11:31 am
Interesting and thoughtful analysis as always, Guardian.
A couple comments from my past experience, and dealing with cops in general rather than petite lady cops:
I was arrested many years ago under dubious circumstances, by BPD officers. (The charges were later dropped.) On the way to the lockup, they actually apologized to me, and commented how strange it seemed to them, to be arresting a regular citizen rather than some scum-of-the-earth. While the distinction was appreciated, it made me realize that cops frequently deal with the Lowest Common Denominator, and that has to color their attitude.
I was on a ride-along with a friend on the BPD a few years back, and observed that there definitely is an “us versus them” mentality. (THEM being the citizenry.) They look at everybody as potential enemies.
It takes a special person to be a good cop. It takes an outstanding person to be a good cop who retains his/her empathy and respect for us common folk. We are blessed to have quite a few of those types serving us. (And a few action-junkie bullies, unfortunately. They seem to gravitate to the job.)
Apr 7, 2006, 4:02 pm
We all should prepare for the worst while expecting the best. If either happens, we are ready and alive! If neither happens, we are still ready and still alive! That is how I made it out of Laos/Cambodia/Nam.
Sep 5, 2006, 6:48 pm
I find it very hard to believe,that regardless of either gender, size and color that this type of statement is acceptable of any Peace Officer. Not only do you carry a sidearm, taser, pepper spray, you also have the entire B.P.D. at your back. And when you look at or speak to a citizen, you think of how they can be killed.
When you are approached you put your hand on your firearm. Is this not enough? It is for me! Or is it Guilty untill proven innocent? Shoot first then ask questions? You are in the position of taking a life (being god) to the innocent as well as the guilty.
In my opinion you should be demoted to a desk job, and away from the need to figure out how to kill every person you meet. I respect the B.P.D. And think you should respect the citizens of Boise as well!
P. Rush Boise resident