Reentry to Police Academy at 53
It was much easier the first time around, but not for the reasons one would expect.
I was 28-years old the first time I went to the police academy. I thought I was pretty hot stuff forty-one years ago. I guess I was. My decent figure and long lion’s mane of big hair attracted men like flies. I had many boyfriends but what I loved most was my job as a police officer.
I wanted to be a cop since I was a kid, and finally, I had managed to get promoted from my dispatcher job to patrol officer. I had to threaten to sue, but that’s another story. My promotion made me the first female patrol officer at my department.
In January of 1979, I went to the state’s police academy for basic training. I loved it. The time flew by, and although I was glad to finish after eight weeks away from my daughter and home, I knew I would miss it. I had sailed through with little effort. There were four other females in the class, so I wasn’t alone in the women’s dorm. The officers attending were from all over the state.
I was single at the time. There were four more women in the class, and one woman was considerably older. She was probably in her mid-fifties. I remember the guys making fun of her. And God help me, I went along with them. Oh, I wish I didn’t remember that, but I do.
Many male recruits helped or advised me, but no one helped or befriended the older woman. Instructors were kind and helpful to me. I distinctly remember a day when it came time to fire the sawed-off 12-gauge shotguns police used back then. The 50-something-year-old woman was the first female up to fire. She was to fire the shotgun from her shoulder.
Not too surprisingly, since she’d never fired a shotgun before, the gun had been loaded with a slug, and the instructor didn’t show her how to brace herself. The blast and the force to her shoulder knocked her off her feet, and as she landed on her bottom, her feet flew up, and she made an almost backward summersault. As we saw the gun barrel coming over and pointing behind her and toward us, we all hit the ground, fearing she would fire the gun again as she rolled backward. I remember — now bitterly — how hard we laughed after that. I don’t know if she was upset because I paid her no more…