WNKY Special Report: Women in law enforcement
It’s a career dominated by men, but these women refuse to let any stereotype keep them from living their dream. WNKY’s Cecilia Herrell takes a look at what it means to be a woman in law enforcement.
Women make up just 13% of the police force in the United States according to the National Center for Women and Policing.
We talked with two female law enforcement officers in South Central Kentucky who refuse to let any gender role define them.
"It’s just, It’s a feeling that you cant even describe." says Courtney Milam.
Courtney Milam is a Kentucky State Police Trooper. Courtney comes from a family of Kentucky State Police, including her brother and her father.
A few years ago, she decided she wanted to follow in their boot steps.
Courtney is the only female trooper at KSP Post #3 in Bowling Green and one of only nearly a dozen female troopers out of 874 in the Commonwealth.
"It is trying at times, because some people don’t see women like they see men in this uniform, but thankfully, I have been very blessed that I haven’t had to encounter any of those people yet. They see this uniform, they don’t see a male or a female, they see a Kentucky State Police Trooper." says Milam.
Courtney has never let anyone treat her differently, just because she is a female.
In fact, she says they treat her just like one of the guys.
"I go to the same calls as the guys. They don’t treat me like a girl. They treat me like one of the guys. I get to hear all their little drama all the time too as one of the boys." adds Milam.
Courtney says being the only female trooper does have it’s advantages.
"Children especially, really bad calls like sex abuse, child abuse, all that good stuff…they seem to open up to me a little bit more than maybe they would the males. Females, domestic situations, anything like that. We kind of have a hard time letting go of boyfriends and stuff like that. So when they see another female come when they have been fighting with their husband or boyfriend they’re like, ‘Okay, maybe she will be on my side, let me talk to her.’ You know, that kind of thing."
Courtney Milam is not the only female who is proud to be in a male dominated career in South Central Kentucky.
Penny Bowles has been with the Bowling Green Police Department for the past 22 years.
"If’s different, people look at you different, but it’s not always in a bad way. I’ve been very blessed to have this job. I went to Western not knowing what I wanted to do and through some good fortune and good mentors, I did an internship and I loved it here." says Penny Bowles, a BGPD Major.
There is one thing that both ladies agree is a huge disadvantage for females in law enforcement and the answer may surprise you.
"The worst thing about this job, being a female, is this gun belt, when you have to pee and go to the bathroom. I mean it’s awful, it’s terrible, it’s like a 15 minute process. They don’t tell you that when you’re going through the academy. That was like my one big thing, I was like, ‘Man, I didn’t think about this’ but it wouldn’t have changed the outcome either way. I just have to stay a little bit closer to a gas station than the guys do." says Milam.
Both KSP Trooper Milam and BGPD Major Bowles went on to say how proud they are to serve and protect the people of South Central Kentucky.