The Austin Police Association (APA) has released a new calendar for the 2018 year. This time, the calendar portrays female officers in their roles as professionals and dedicated protectors. Before it's official launch on January 18th, 2018, the APA released an action-packed video that shows the women in their work environment. Below, is a piece of the written statement given by one of the calendar's producers, Officer Susana Sanchez.
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“Cop”. When people hear that word there is a very specific image that comes to mind: a tall male, with square shoulders and a sturdy jaw line. He is wearing an impeccable blue uniform, a gun on his hip, and highly polished black boots.. His face? His eyes? They’re blank. It’s as if he has no expression and there is no humanity beneath the surface.
In recent years, controversy over police practices and the viral spread of YouTube videos have turned the word “cop” into a synonym of “brutality” and the “police state”. Video clips are selectively edited, cut short and uploaded to the internet, leaving viewers to make what they will of it. Slowly, this nation’s communities have stopped knowing their local patrolman as “Jaime”, simply calling him “officer” to his face and a host of other unsavory names behind his back. Officer Jaime lost his humanity to the point where the public finds it strange to picture this man at home with his wife and children. It’s even more difficult to envision him as your neighbor, hosting the neighborhood block party or the church chili cook off...
Already having lost the ability to see Jaime as a person and pegging him as a branch of the “police state,” it’s even more challenging for people to see Amanda, Grace or Robin wearing the blue. 2011 FBI data estimates that females make up 12% of the police force in the United States. Yet who they are remains a mystery to the public. On one hand, the traditional male-dominated field of law enforcement has entrenched the vision of the officer. People are so used to the man in blue that my week as a female cop isn’t complete without being called “sir”, only to have people correct themselves once they stop to look at my face. On the other hand, we have the prevailing narrative of the inhumane police officer who is out to violate people’s rights. Where does the image of the female officer stand when these stereotypes collide?
The unfortunate answer is that it doesn’t. When the public thinks of a female officer, certain visions dominate. Either she’s so manly in her attributes and manner that she is stripped of all her femininity, or it’s October 31st and she is wearing a sexually objectifying costume. Sometimes, the female officer is placed in a box where she is the diplomat, the smooth-talker, the one who calms a situation and handles paperwork, but not the one who could respond to an active-shooter or fight for a stranger’s life. Amanda is a strange hybrid that the public finds hard to place in the neat cut-out of the “cop” that has served as a mold for decades and that which social media is sensationalizing. She defies the ill-fitting pictures of the female officer. She is strong, brave, beautiful and is every bit the police officer as the next guy. She’s not an actress, or a character in a show. She is a real flesh and blood woman who responds to your home when you ask for help.
Showing the real female officer is what we aimed to do by producing the 2018 Warrior Women of APD Calendar. It was an effort to show the public a version of us, the police, from the viewpoint of officers instead of through the eyes of Hollywood or the perspective of a viral video. From what we could find, the images of the female officer as a professional and as a human being have rarely been fused this way. We believed we could bring this concept to life in the form of a charity calendar and, hopefully, encourage other agencies to build on this idea...
With this project, we hoped to do something equally as brave as the women who broke the molds that society gave them and came to serve in the ranks of law enforcement. We wanted to salute the 12% of female officers who serve alongside the men in blue and have lived, worked, and even died protecting their communities. The same 12% who remain an enigma, save for the few mischaracterized and misrepresented roles in television shows and movies. These are the real female cops as seen and presented by our own officers...
Written by Officer Susana Sanchez 7872
Austin Police Department
ARTICLE COURTESY OF: THE AUSTIN POLICE ASSOCIATION
PHOTO COURTESY OF: SCOTT STANFIELD