They say people wear many hats. Well, personally, I believe that women can wear several hats AND a ton of shoes.
Growing up in a house with four brothers, I became that unique hybrid of female who is one part tomboy and one part feminist with a double dose of girly-girl thrown in for good measure. In other words, I was drawn to male dominated activities and careers, but I wanted to look pretty while doing them.
Unfortunately, when it comes to law enforcement, the two opposites don’t always work well together. I remember the first time I learned this cold truth.
During an internship with the parole department, I was out late one night with the Anaheim Police Department on a task force operation. I had gone to a trendy restaurant with friends for dinner beforehand and was wearing jeans and a new pair of high heeled boots. Jeans and boots are pretty tough, right?
Walking down a quiet, dark alley, a seasoned detective from the gang unit finally turned to me in frustration and said, “Girl, if you ever wear shoes like those again, we’re gonna leave your ass in the car.”
See, they were trying to be stealth and didn’t want anyone alerted to their presence. Yet there I was, clink-clinking along as though I was a semi-finalist on America’s Next Top Model, and my stupid footwear was drawing all kinds of unwanted attention and compromising the entire team. Oops.
If you attend the Badges, Bad Guys, and Babes…Oh My! panel at the 2015 California Dreamin’ Conference, one of the things you will learn from both me and the very experienced and entertaining M.A. Taylor is that female law enforcement officers usually have to check their femininity at the door.
But then, there are also times when we DO get to dress up for work. Now, this doesn’t go for many of my sisters in blue, but one of my favorite duties was going to court since I would get to wear a skirt and fancy shoes.
One day, I was walking down the hall toward the courtroom and a defendant on my caseload said, “I didn’t even recognize you dressed like that.”
Male criminals love to turn on the charm with female cops (also something you can learn about in our panel), and I quickly put him in his place by responding, “I call these my prison shoes. I wear these whenever I’m sending someone to prison.” That shut him up very quickly.
As women in law enforcement, every person we met in the field has their expectations of us. Female suspects expected me to be more empathetic and male suspects expected me to be soft and weak. It was my job to be physically and emotionally prepared to change their minds.
Once, I was receiving an award and my director gave me the best compliment ever. He referred to me as “The steel hand in the velvet glove.” And that’s what we ladies are. In that line of work, both my fashion sense and my entire mindset had to constantly negotiate a delicate balancing act.
Sometimes, I miss my career days—especially when I run into former colleagues or when I see an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria barreling down the street. But, nowadays, I’m finding that the shoes I’m most fond of wearing are my mom shoes …
…followed closely by my writing shoes…
Christy Jeffries graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in Criminology and received her Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law.
But drafting court documents and working in law enforcement was merely an apprenticeship for her current career in the relentless field of mommyhood and romance writing. She lives in Southern California with her patient husband, two energetic sons, and one sassy grandmother.