09/27/09 — GPD officer named Woman of the Year

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GPD officer named Woman of the Year

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on September 27, 2009 2:00 AM

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Cpl. Marissa Davis

Being a police officer can be a thankless job -- sometimes more so when you happen to be a woman, Cpl. Marissa Davis says.

Depending on the situation, some people still act surprised when they see a woman with a badge.

"I guess when people call the police, (they) are expecting to see a man," Cpl. Davis said.

Even Cpl. Davis herself is guilty of a little gender bias at times, she said.

"When you say 'officer,' I think sometimes in your mind, you think it's going to be a male officer," she said.

Changing such stereotypes is one aim of the N.C. Law Enforcement Women's Association, a group that has named Cpl. Davis its "Woman of the Year."

"It's indeed an honor to be recognized amongst other women that do the same work that I do," said Cpl. Davis, who plays roles in community relations and planning events such as National Night Out.

The N.C. Law Enforcement Women's Assocation meets quarterly, doing such things as providing scholarships and care packages to institutionalized people, including at Cherry Hospital, Cpl. Davis said.

Cpl. Davis is the third recipient of the "Woman of the Year" award, following the Sheriff's Office's Beverly Deans in 1997 and Goldsboro police Maj. Lee Szatkowski in 1998.

Although Cpl. Davis admits that women still have a long way to go in a male-dominated field, she says there has been progress. She says she no longer feels like there's a "glass ceiling" in the chain of police promotions.

"Now women are in the roles of chiefs and major, and moving up the ladder. I really feel like it has improved for women. We may even make it to be president someday -- it almost happened this year -- so anything's possible," she said.

The N.C. Law Enforcement Women's Association helps women advance by offering leadership training, including on "how to prepare yourself for promotional processes," Cpl. Davis said.

The training offered by the association has a broad scoped.

"When you're on patrol, they actually send you to schools that are patrol-related," she said. "But the training is open to anything. You may get some investigative skills. You may get some communication skills. It's just a wide variety of training."

The corporal said she is glad for the positive reinforcement she received, and added that she tries to return the favor.

"I'm thankful that I'm in a position to help somebody along the way," Cpl. Davis said. "If it's just a kind word, or if it's a place to stay, whatever the need may be."