NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It may be society’s most essential job.
But it may also be the most dangerous and controversial time to become a police officer.
That’s because of the challenges and new risks that come with policing as a profession.
“I knew I was coming in at a very odd time,” says Irving Police Officer Karli Malone.
She said she knew her career decision wouldn’t be popular with everyone around her.
“Everyone was super concerned when I said you know this is, this is really what I am going to pursue after school,” says Malone.
The 24-year-old started patrolling the streets of Irving four months ago.
Right around the time bad examples of her profession led to protests on the streets of American cities.
“For me this was sort of my way of being part of that conversation, says Malone. “You know be, as cheesy as sounds, be the the change that you want to see.”
Janine Adams also wanted to be part of that change when she became a Dallas Police officer just three weeks ago.
“Especially now with the whole defund the police movement. I do want to change policing. I want us to be better looked at, better thought of,” says Adams who faced backlash over her decision to wear a badge.
“Maybe some acquaintances who weren’t actual friends that you know didn’t agree with me doing the job, being female, being African American, they felt that I was a traitor, given the current movements,” says Adams. “But my true friends and family have been very supportive.
The 25-year-old’s training officer is a veteran who admires his rookies for accepting challenges starting out that he didn’t have to face.
“We’re under a microscope so much now,” says Dallas Police Sr. Cpl. Dameon Sansom. “Social media has a lot to do with it.”
Every decision an officer makes in public now faces the possibility of being recorded on cell phones and shared across the country within minutes.
“They highlighted from day one of training whatever you do it’s on camera,” says Malone.
Body cams often capture what cell phones don’t.
And officers can pay a high price for mistakes.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t intimidating, especially as a new officer who is definitely more likely to make a mistake,” says Malone.
She and other sworn officers who began their careers after several targeted attacks on police, including the 2017 ambush in Dallas that left five dead, now face a new risk to an already dangerous job.
But It’s a risk young officers seem more than willing to embrace as they each embark on a plan to change the public’s perception of policing.
“I want people to need us again,” says Adams. “My life has a purpose to go out there and serve other people.”
“My job is to go out there and be the best me, the best version of this police department that I can,” says Irving Police Officer Adam Hasenbein.
“This is what I signed up for and I love what I do,” says Irving Police Officer Stephanie Straw.
“I think seriously egos the biggest thing and if you can just stay humble and know that you’re gonna learn and you’re gonna make mistakes but just be motivated and driven to be kind and do the best you can I think that’s what we need,” says Malone.
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