Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

New police officer fulfills longtime goals

October 5, 2006

Basehor's new female police officer is just where she's always wanted to be.

Rachel Norman always has wanted a career in law enforcement.

The 23-year-old Leavenworth native said a little encouragement from her fiancee, a Leavenworth city police officer, motivated her to apply for a position with the Basehor Police Department.

"I always wanted to be a police officer since I was young," she said. "I worked at it until I got here."

Norman gained some law enforcement experience as a prison guard in Lansing before landing a part-time position at the Basehor police department. She was one of four candidates chosen to join the force after the hiring process was complete. Nine people went through the hiring process with Norman. Applicants must pass a medical and psychological exams, and an agility test, which includes pushing a patrol car 60 feet, dragging a large human dummy and several other fitness exercises.

Police chief Terry Horner said officers really prove themselves with the department when they pass the two-week training session for part-time officers. The officers must receive a 70 percent or better on a written exam and in firearms to obtain state certification. Norman received state certification Sept. 22. During training, officers learn about a variety of skills, including defense tactics.

"We learned different pressure points to use, baton strikes and some handcuffing techniques," Norman said.

The Basehor police department also has its own training program. Horner said that once an officer is familiarized with a specific area such as traffic stops, they may go on patrol with a full-time officer. Although part-time officers are allowed to drive police vehicles, they do not patrol on their own.

Horner said there has not been a female officer in Basehor for several years, but having a woman on the force can bring certain advantages to the police department. He said studies have shown that female officers do better in certain situations, such as those involving juveniles.

"We do not currently receive a lot of applications from females wanting to be officers in the city of Basehor," Horner said. "Women can be more empathetic in certain situations. It's nice to have that on board."

Members of the community noticed Norman at the Basehor-Linwood High School Homecoming parade last week. She said several people told her they were pleased to see a female police officer in Basehor.

When Norman is not working, she said she likes to spend time with her family, including her two young daughters and practice shooting at the shooting range.

Norman works part-time right now, but in time, she would like to move to a full-time position.

"My future plans are to go full time and still be here," she said. "I like the hometown atmosphere here and I like everybody I work with."

Horner said Norman has a good chance of earning a full-time position with the department.

"The last three full-time officers I've hired have been from the part-time pool," he said. "Being a part-timer, she will definitely have the inside track. I have ambitions for her to someday be full time, but she holds the key to her own advance."

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