When two women applied to be reserve officers for the Brownstown Police Department, they had no idea they were making history.
Danielle Shuler, 34, was sworn in Nov. 2 during a Brownstown Town Council meeting, and Brooke Davidson, 25, went through that process Monday.
Story continues below gallery
Town officials said that, as far as they know, those are the first two women to serve with the department.
“That’s really kind of a milestone, I guess, for everybody around here, which is good,” said Shuler, a Boston native who now lives in Cortland. “I want little girls to know that they can do this, regardless of what anybody tells them. They can do anything they want. You just have to work at it.”
Davidson, a lifelong Medora resident, said it’s good to see women interested in law enforcement.
“Girls can do everything guys can,” she said. “For girls growing up around here, we don’t have any female officers around here hardly. It’s a chance to see that ‘I can do that, too.’ Law enforcement is a really good career. It gives you an opportunity to help other people and to give back to the community.”
Shuler’s husband, Dustin, and two children, Russell, 12, and AnnMarie, 7, attended her swearing-in ceremony. Shuler said her daughter watched her through the whole process, from doing college homework to receiving her diploma to attending the swearing-in.
“She appreciates it more now because she got to see it, and she just beams,” Shuler said. “She thinks it’s the coolest thing ever, which is wonderful. That’s a bonus.”
Davidson’s brother, Blake, and mother, Robin, were on hand.
“They are very supportive,” Davidson said of her family.
Shuler and Davidson join Daulton Anderson and Blake McCrary as the town’s newest reserve officers. Ben Cramer and J.L. McElfresh have been reserves with the department for the past few years.
Brownstown Police Chief Tom Hanner said the four reserves bring something to the table that’s going to benefit the community. He said it’s a positive that two of them are women.
“There’s a place for women in law enforcement,” he said. “There are things that (men) can’t do without having a female officer. One thing in particular, when I have a woman that is a victim, it is much more comfortable for that woman to speak to a female officer. Or if you have a small child, that child may feel more comfortable talking to a female than a male. It’s going to be a huge benefit for our department.”
‘Good for the community’
Hanner said the town has had a reserve officer program for about nine years. It started with just two, but he bumped that up to six in 2012. Including Hanner, there are six full-time officers.“A town our size, oftentimes, officers are on duty by themselves, so we want to try to alleviate that,” he said. “We try to double up officers whenever we can, especially on night shift on patrol. To have additional eyes and ears patrolling in another car is a big presence.”The department also implemented a field training program in 2012. All full-time and reserve officers have to meet the guidelines of a field training officer before being on their own and take a minimum of 24 hours of in-service training annually. Reserves are expected to work a minimum of 16 hours per month.
“It’s good for the officer,” Hanner said of the training. “Plus, it’s good for the community that we make sure we try to do the best we can to provide them the best service that we can.”
The four new reserve officers replace others who left to take positions at other departments.
“We want to try to hire reserve officers who are ambitious of becoming a full-time officer somewhere,” Hanner said. “With us having a field training program for reserves, we make them attractive to other departments. It makes us proud that other departments are noticing how we train our reserves.”
Shuler and Davidson went through interviews before completing the 40-hour pre-basic class. They are now working with a field training officer.
Shuler graduated from North Quincy High School in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1998 and then moved to Panama City, Florida, and attended Florida State University.
“Initially, I was going for a degree in psychology, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do once I delved into it,” she said.
‘Zero to crazy in two seconds’
She met her husband, a Jackson County native, in Florida; and they moved here in 2002. She worked at a local tanning business for six years until having her daughter and taking some time off. She then worked for a marketing firm until it relocated.She then decided to go back to school, enrolling in online classes through Indiana Wesleyan University and earning an associate degree in criminal justice in 2013. She’s now about 10 credits away from a bachelor’s degree. She’s balancing that with her full-time job as a jailer at the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown.“I come from a family that has a lot of attorneys that were in law enforcement,” Shuler said. “I respect law enforcement, and I think that they get a bad rap. As a female and having a daughter, I want her to know she can do anything she wants.”
Working at the jail, Shuler often interacts with local police officers. She also is friends with John Long, a sergeant with the Brownstown Police Department, and he encouraged her to apply to be a reserve.
She then went through an interview and started the pre-basic class. She said the training she has received has been solid.
“Brownstown is really good about not just throwing us out there,” she said. “They want to make sure that we are ready and that we are trained, which is wonderful because it can be scary. It can go from zero to crazy in two seconds. You don’t know what you’re walking up on and who they are.”
‘A lot of hard work’
Davidson graduated from Medora High School in 2009 and headed to Vincennes University.“I started out in the medical field as a major, but I decided after a semester that’s really not for me,” she said. “I went around and talked to some of the professors in different divisions and found out law enforcement is really where I wanted to be. I’ve always wanted a career where I could help people, and there’s just so much that you can do to help people.”She received her law enforcement degree in 2011 and went another two years to earn her homeland security/public safety degree.
“I thought about becoming an animal control officer,” Davidson said. “I started to get into classes, and I just kind of fell in love with all of (law enforcement) in general. I just wanted to be a regular officer.”
She worked at the Jackson County Jail for a while before taking a job at the Brownstown Post Office.
Davidson said that after college she submitted her application with the Brownstown Police Department. Earlier this year, she received a call about being a reserve officer and decided to go for it.
“It was exciting, but there is a lot of hard work to it because you’re going to go out there and you’re going to do the same things (full-time officers) are doing, so you need to know the same things that they know,” she said. “Some of it was a bit of a refresher from my law enforcement degree, but it’s important stuff to know, and there was new stuff.”
Both women said they have a goal of landing a full-time law enforcement job.