Two new hires for the Public Safety office share their experiences as women working in the male-dominated, law enforcement field.
One of the new hires is Kristin Cowell, a mother of two kids from Marion, Ohio. Before coming to the university, Cowell worked as a correctional officer at the Murrow County Correctional Facility. She then transitioned to a job at the Union County Sheriff Office, and spent two weeks as a school resource officer at Fairbanks High School.
“Being a female in law enforcement is a continuous challenge. I’ve been around multiple Field Training Instructors, all men. I’ve noticed some handle situations with a mindset ‘everyone needs arrested.’ I’ve also been around instructors that speak to people in a calm, friendly voice.”
After five years of experience working for law enforcement, she now finds herself in the suburbs of Bexley.
“When I had my interview for Capital, it honestly felt like home,” Cowell said. “There wasn’t any intimidation and everyone was extremely kind.”
Throughout her years in law enforcement, Cowell’s favorite part of the job is when she gets to interact with kids, stating that, “In this day of policing, you’re still their hero.”
This response alludes to the resentment that some of the public holds for the police as an institution. During this climate, Cowell feels it is still important to navigate with both integrity and empathy while on the job.
When asked what advise she would give to young women, Cowell had this to say, “Don’t ever let someone make you believe you can’t do anything. I’ve handled situations/calls by myself and there are times I needed to ask for assistance. Some men will test you, intimidate you, or just not accept you because you are a female. Women are just as much capable as men.”
Ashlie Walter is another female officer that recently started working for the Public Safety office. During her downtime, Walter enjoys spending time with her husband and four kids, and playing softball.
Before becoming a police officer, Walter worked as a corrections officer for six years.
Walter described what it was like pursuing a career in such a male-dominated field. The physical exertion of the job has been tough, but she feels that it has ultimately made her stronger and more capable of facing new challenges.
“I have had to work and push myself harder on the physical end of things to keep up and compete with the men,” Walter said. “I’d like to assure any female wanting to pursue a career in a male dominating field that all the trials and tribulations are worth it in the end when you achieve your goal.”
Walter hopes that with each case that she tackles, she will be able to leave a positive impact that will fight against the stigma that is surrounding the police.
“In today’s society there is a negative perception of police and I absolutely understand the justification of that image,” Walter said. “I want to do my part to shift that negative image into a positive one with those I come into contact with.”
In addition to Cowell and Walter, there are three other members that have joined Public Safety this semester, including Michel Stratton, Valerie Banks, and Heather Kalman.
“I’m extremely excited to have Officer Walter to work with and start at the same time at Capital,” Cowell said. “I’m hoping we can empower female students to achieve anything they want.”