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Women get first-hand experience at Ramsey County Sheriff's Office Women's Academy

June 12, 2019 11:08 PM

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office is hosting a Women’s Academy this week to encourage more women to pursue a career in law enforcement.

The free, 40-hour program teaches about patrol, investigations, de-escalation and defensive tactics, health and wellness and CrossFit. The participants also become CPR certified.

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17 women are participating, as each applied months ago.

“I'm so overjoyed,” said Tye Anderson of St. Paul.

RELATED: Minnesota State Patrol recruiting more women

She tried to get into the program last year but missed the deadline by a day. The mother of four has been working in security for the past 15 years, balancing that job with her non-profit work.

This experience has been an important step forward towards a career change, reaffirming this is what she wants to do with her life.

“I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to give [my children] a better life growing up,” said Anderson. “As well as show them the police are not all bad, as viewed on television and shows and video games.”

She said she’d like to work in the jail.

There are more than 450 members of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office but only about a quarter are women.

“It’s a great profession, it's been a great career and there's a lot of opportunity here,” said Sgt. Suwana Kirkland.

But she said there’s something preventing women from pursuing these careers.

“We're trying to change that,” said Sgt. Kirkland. “We don’t have enough representation as far as women in law enforcement and I can tell you every agency around the metro is still trying to figure out what is it? What can we do to get more women interested in law enforcement?”

She started this academy last year to connect women with mentors.

On Wednesday, the group learned about K9 training from a deputy with more than 20 years of experience.

RELATED: 1st-ever campaigns launched in Minnesota to recruit female police officers

They also had the opportunity to meet Deputy Sheriff Megan McDonald, who has been with the department for three years.

“It’s important for women to realize you're powerful, you have the abilities to do it, you can do it and we're examples of that,” said Deputy McDonald.

She's coming in early, and on her days off, to help with the program.

“As women, we bring a different aspect to the job, we are critical thinkers, problem solvers and mothers and sisters” said McDonald. “I’m shorter than most of the population so I have to be able to control a situation by talking to people.”

For Dawn Varela, from St. Paul, it’s been an inspiring week.

“Just seeing what I can accomplish,” she said. “I've never done [CrossFit], they push us just to see what we can do.”

And the 17 women have built comradery.

“We have so much in common and we all want to serve our community and further our goals and be a better person,” said Varela.

For Anderson, “I’m going to be really emotional to know [Friday] is the last day.”

She said the up-close, hands-on experience has changed her perspective of police.

RELATED: St. Paul police hold recruitment event for women of all ages

“I see them as doing what they were hired to do and that's to serve and protect,” said Anderson.

A message Deputy McDonald hopes others share.

“They can go back into the rest of the community and say they're humans too, they're just like us, they just wear a uniform,” said Deputy McDonald.

Police agencies around the metro are working to recruit more women. Over the winter St. Paul Police launched a video campaign.

The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office said Minneapolis Police shadowed this week to help develop an MPD women’s academy.

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Callan Gray

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