When I was a little girl my Grandparents got me a sweatshirt for Christmas that said “Anything Boys Can Do Girls Can Do Better”. I can honestly say, this has been my life motto.
In grade school, I was given a recruiting pamphlet by a York Regional Police Officer. He told me that it was a career I should consider. At that moment, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
I think I was drawn to policing because it was a male dominated profession and I saw it as a personal challenge.
I became involved in competitive sports from a young age and I thankfully had amazing male role models like my Dad and Grandpa to support and encourage me. To this day, I am eternally grateful to my grade 3 teacher; Ross Jamieson; for putting me on the boys floor hockey and baseball teams solely because he saw my skill level and not my gender. He simply registered me as
S Rutherford and with short hair, no makeup, masks and helmets, no one ever knew the difference!
This then spilled over to ice hockey, where after a time, girls beating boys on the ice wasn’t helpful to the male ego and they eventually refused to play us. The solution, my parents and a small group of others fought, wrote, campaigned, organized and eventually in 1980, The Peterborough Girls Hockey Association was born where I played for over 32 years.
Generally, the competition in this world for women never ends, and policing isn’t any different. I believe that the biggest hurdle for females is that you are always being tested in this job, and you have to continually fight to prove yourself. What I would tell women who want to become police officers is that you have thick skin, and be able to take it as well as you dish it out. It is a mentally tough job and you need to have a warrior mindset every day.
When the opportunity to be a dog handler came up, (my dream job) The Sgt in charge of the unit who would be testing and training us made the comment “there will never be a woman on my unit”…well my first reaction to that was “oh ya, watch me!”
Not only did I get that 80 pound bag over the 6 foot fence I went on to get 99.5 out of 100 on the fitness test..take that!
Once I showed him that I could do the job without complaint, I earned this staunch former military man’s respect. We went on to have a great working relationship and a friendship that has lasted to this day.
I later became a Detective in the Sex Offense Unit of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. It was not until I developed the Internet Child Exploitation Unit, that I was forever changed. The images sear your mind and scar your soul. I am not the person I used to be but, during my time conducting those investigations, children were saved from further abuse and thats the ultimate win.
That being said, I have had some amazing experiences in this job. When I think back over the last 29 years, it has been pretty amazing. From fantastic victories with Police Service Dog “Max”, to watching a bank robbery happen and apprehending the suspects as they fled, to working with provincial and international police agency’s to rescue children that were being sexually abused on line, it has been a good go. I simply wouldn’t change it for anything!