Lt. Carole A. Presson visited the Lewis and Clark campus on March 7 to give a speech about the struggles and benefits women face while working in law enforcement.
Presson began the speech with talking about the history of women in law enforcement, explaining how women started joining the police force as early as 1845.
Not only has Presson succeeded in her field by becoming the first woman to join the Madison County law enforcement, she now works as Detective Lieutenant at the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
She has remained the longest standing investigator and female lieutenant in her bureau, working there for over 15 years. Working that long as a detective can have it’s difficulties, but Presson said she’s always loved the job.
However, she did point out that women can face problems within the departments:
“You have to have thick skin sometimes,” Presson said. “This is a male dominated profession. In law enforcement, men see things as gender based while women see things individually.”
During her speech, the lieutenant also brought up the work of Dr. Susan Keverline, who did a study on female federal agents.
One of the issues they face is having a friendly relationship with their male coworkers. Friendly relationships can be a problem because people often assume that the relationship is beyond being just partners in law.
Furthermore, it is also harder for women in law enforcement to connect with other women because of lack of similar interests.
“I have more in common with men than I do women. A lot of women don’t want to hear about the dirty details of police work,” Presson said.
It is often the case that male officers have trouble understanding the family issues female officers have to deal with. Since it is part of the social norm for women to take care of children, male officers can often accidentally overlook the troubles of motherhood as secondary.
Nonetheless, Lt. Presson, being a mother herself, mentioned that it can be hard to balance motherhood with her work.
Despite these issues, Presson still encouraged people to join law enforcement, mentioning that while law officers do have a negative image, there is still hope for the future.
If interested in pursuing this field, L&C offers Criminal Justice degrees. More information is available at www.lc.edu/program/criminaljustice/.