What is your name and department/agency?
Traci Ciepiela, Texas County Sheriff’s Department located in Houston, MO
Please give us a little background about yourself, i.e., family, education, hobbies, etc.
I grew up outside Buffalo, NY. I originally had a career in radio news when I switched to law enforcement. I have a BA in Communications, a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice and had pursued a Ph.d., achieving the level of ABD.
When and why did you decide to become involved in law enforcement?
As a radio news anchor in Michigan I had the opportunity to ride with the Michigan State Police, Iron Mountain Post, and fell in love with their job. After a move to Missouri in 1997, I eventually switched careers and was officially a member of law enforcement in August of 1999.
What is your present assignment?
I work for the Texas County Sheriff’s Department as a road deputy during the summer. I also teach at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, WY, during the school year. Year round, I teach online courses with Everest Online, Phoenix Online and Kaplan University Online.
What do you like most about your job?
The amazing people I have the privilege of associating and working with.
What do you like least about your job?
I have a soft spot for animals; I almost can’t bear to see what people do to their dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc.
How does your family feel about you being in law enforcement?
My mother was shocked when I decided to pursue law enforcement. As a kid I wasn’t allowed to even have a squirt gun, now I carry a real one every day. She still isn’t very comfortable with the idea, my dad, I think, was proud.
Do you think the consensus is that law enforcement is a man’s job? If so, have you had difficulty being accepted as an equal?
There always seems to be this type of accusation out there, no matter what the group. If you are college educated and can’t do the job, it is because you have a college degree, therefore, all college degreed folks are incapable of being cops. The same applies to women, if someone works with one female who can’t do the job then suddenly no female is capable. Just because you may have had one experience that wasn’t great, doesn’t mean you should paint everyone with that same brush. I have worked with white male officers who didn’t have a college degree and weren’t very good doing the job, but that didn’t cloud my opinion of other officers. There was one department that I had a very difficult time being accepted as an equal, the rumor mill started and just wouldn’t end. I was either having sexual relations with supervisors to get a promotion or to get favors. I expected promotions because I was a female, even though I voiced my support for other candidates. The entire situation really became very uncomfortable; I ultimately had to leave that department for my own safety and sanity. Other than that department, I have been treated as an equal.
What would you like the public to know about your job?
It is never what you see on TV, and maybe sometimes the public can give officers a break and not jump to conclusions based on what the nightly news anchor says. There is also a lot more going on than what you see in the videos on you tube or the news.
If you had to do it over again, would you choose law enforcement as a career?
I would do it sooner!