Posted by: A Part of the Solution | August 23, 2013

For the Trooper

The trooper assigned to the case against me and a good friend is not the trooper originally assigned to our case. He was thrown from his SUV in an accident and very gravely injured. This created some delay in the gathering of evidence against us.

Our new trooper, we’ll call her Trooper Stacey Sidecar, called me almost a month after the incident to collect my information. Naively, I answered all of her questions honestly and without counsel. This will probably make the case against me much tougher in lots of different ways.

Trooper Sidecar emphasized her commitment to the law, and the impartiality thereof. This would be more true if women were the equals of men in the eyes of the law. For instance, men who kill former or current domestic partners serve about four years in jail if convicted. Women incarcerated for the same crime serve about fifteen years on average. Just sayin’.

But at the pre-trial hearing only a day or two ago, we first had a visual on Trooper Sidecar. She’s young, petite, and brunette. Her sidearm looked lots bigger on her belt than it did on her male counterparts in the magistrate’s office.

After the hearing, my ‘co-conspirator’ and I drove home together with a friend who’d driven us up. My co-conspirator, like myself, is a woman. Our driver is male and a contemporary in years.

His comment, regarding Trooper Sidecar, was that she was the only woman at her State Police Station, and must have liked all the attention she received in her well-filled out uniform. He stated that she clearly enjoyed being the only female and knew how good she looked with that big gun strapped to her waist–and acted like it in the room where the hearing was conducted, as well as at the station.

I reeled in horror. Trooper Sidecar was filing the warrants for my arrest–conspiracy and receiving stolen goods, as we rode home. I knew this because she’d said so at the close of the pre-trial hearing for my friend who committed the ‘misdemeanor I theft’ on which the charges against me are predicated.

I neither cheered our driver’s assessment, nor did I keep my mouth shut. Women in uniforms (save nursing, I suppose) serve in a minority situation. A woman who chooses to enlist in the military or join the law enforcement branches at any level is a citizen dedicated to upholding the law and freedoms we all enjoy. But our driver assumed she was, essentially, a form of sex-worker or narcissist. He clearly believed she chose the work in order to titillate and excite the men with whom she worked.

Here is the Code of Honor for the force in which she serves:

I am a State Trooper, a soldier of the law.

To me is entrusted the honor of the force

I must serve honestly, faithfully, and if need be, lay down my life as others have done before me, rather than swerve from the path of duty.

It is my duty to obey the law and to enforce it without any consideration of class, color, creed or condition.

It is also my duty to be of service to anyone who may be in danger or distress, and at all times so conduct myself that the honor of the force may be upheld.

I have a hard time believing someone who has chosen such a dangerous, difficult and demanding line of work would overtly or secretly be more concerned about the hormonal effect s/he might have on co-workers than carrying out his/her duties to the best of his/her capacity.

I imagine, as the only woman stationed in her barracks, her job is more difficult and dangerous than that of her fellow officers. I have never heard speculation regarding the self-awareness of ‘sexiness’ in the line-of-duty directed at an officer with an XY chromosomal assortment. Whereas, no woman and few men reading this post imagines Trooper Sidecar to have trained in the academy and served for seven years without gamy speculation, catcalling, ‘teasing’, taunting and hazing solely on account of her minority status.

It is very likely, as she still serves in law enforcement, she never reported any of her fellow cadets or troopers–regardless of the severity of the harassment to which she has been, or still is, subjected. Really, I found the trooper dispassionate, level-headed and committed to the ideals which she has sworn to uphold (see the code above, which all troopers memorize).

I don’t believe Trooper Stacey Sidecar really wanted to be a stripper when she grew up. Nor does her physical fitness, or the cut of her uniform, entitle anyone to assume she is an exhibitionist. Neither is the disparity in proportion between herself and her official sidearm a license for lasciviousness.

Shortly after I graduated from university, I worked in construction. Because of my experience with tools and detail-work, I received the skilled tasks assigned to our crew: drywall hanging, taping and finishing; painting; tiling; sill-work and coving. This outraged my largely-fit-for-demolitions-only co-workers–who were also male. I left the job on the strength of their expressed rage. Like Mark Slackmeyer*, I got fed-up with getting beat-up. I know first-hand the difficulties of being a minority worker in a work environment dominated by a hostile majority. I know how much harder Trooper Sidecar has to work to do the same job as her barracks-mates, let alone a better and more thorough job with a stainless record.

My hat is off to the diligent trooper attempting (though only from her dedication to the ‘impartiality’ of the law) to help ruin my life, destroy my sense of personal safety and abrogate my right to the property which is, and has been, mine. I understand her commitment to her ideals–and that they may be strengthened by a family tradition, a formative incident in childhood, or a purely philosophical bias.

Maybe she’s just got an innate talent for her chosen profession and is expressing it to the best of her ability. If she were male, that would be the initial assumption on the part of most people learning of her calling, or seeing her in uniform for the first time. One day, though not in my lifetime, women in uniform may achieve the benefit of being perceived as serving because it’s their vocation and their choice.

And not because of how the uniform fits.

*A long-running character in Doonesbury who worked in construction after college.


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