Females in law enforcement
Sheriff’s deputy Haley Holloway’s bulletproof vest bulges beneath her uniform.
Her fingernails are painted pink.
Her long dark hair is pulled up in a bun.
The badge on her chest, a gold star, looks almost … delicate.
But Holloway is all cop.In a field long dominated by men, she is one of the growing number of women. And since she signed on with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office about two years ago, she says she has never experienced any gender discrimination.
A 2008 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of 62 federal law enforcement agencies, there were 90,000 sworn officers in all. About 18,200 were women.
“It’s not a profession that is all male,” Holloway said, “but if someone looks at me weird I don’t think of it as a negative thing. I just go with it as opposed to fighting it. I do the best I can. My motto is to fight smarter, not harder.”
This idea of accepting being a woman in a generally male-dominated field is a facet of law enforcement that Capt. Lynnette LaRocque of BCSO has dealt with in her 26 years of being on the job.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. If you work hard and you do what you’re supposed to do, you can do anything,” LaRocque said.
LaRocque always knew her future lied in law enforcement, since the beginning of her childhood. The attraction was in the super-hero-like qualities of policemen.
“It was the uniform for starters. I remember these men, I can still see them, they looked great in their uniforms and they were fit. They were here to help,” LaRocque said. “Being so small, they made a huge impression on me. It’s like they came in and saved the day.”
The rest was history for LaRocque. She served three years in the military, as military police. She then started at BCSO in April of 1990 and began as an undercover officer working the drug beat. As a newcomer to Baldwin and unfamiliar with drugs—she was soon swept into classes that told her how to walk and talk like a drug dealer.
“Back then, you were by yourself while undercover and for someone that knew nothing about drugs, it was tough. I was a little nervous because it wasn’t my forte, there were a few times that made me think twice,” LaRocque said.
However, LaRocque said there wasn’t a time that she felt aware that she was a female, but rather thought of herself as simply a neutral person working in the field of law enforcement. More trying times occurred in her career, such as having a knife pulled on her and being shot at twice. But, LaRocque does not equate the physical aspects as being the most difficult part of her job, but the emotional ones.
“To feel something emotional at work is the hardest part. We have to be totally separate from everything that happens. It’s almost like you’re not a person, but you are,” LaRocque said. “When you go somewhere and you see someone has been shot your immediate reaction is to freak out or you feel so bad you want to cry, and you can’t.
Intimidation is also part of the role that women have to factor in when working in law enforcement, which is what Holloway has remained aware of.
“You get calls and you never know what it’s going to be. Yes, it’s intimidating sometimes because I am a female but I’m also smaller. So these people are bigger, faster and stronger, but I just have to be smarter.”
The reminisce of days where men were the token watcher’s of justice have seem to take a back burner, allowing women to make more of a presence in law enforcement. However, LaRocque doesn’t chalk her achievements up to being a women in a male dominated career, rather she looks at them as simple accomplishments.
“I don’t look at something and say, ‘Look at what I did and I’m a woman,’” she said. “I don’t really view anything I do as a woman. I just view it as in I am a person.”