9/11/2017 I took an oath to become a Correctional Officer and I was thrilled! A childhood dream of mine finally coming to fruition… little did I know I would come to regret this decision a very short time later.
Growing up I loved a few things, at different times; writing, basketball, fashion, law and law enforcement… At one point I thought I’d be a journalist and then a lawyer, a police officer and then a correctional Officer. I figured that’s it! I could work in law enforcement but not “walk the beat” get my foot in the door as a C.O. , become a cop and then eventually a detective. I had it all planned out.
In my early 20’s I tested for the police officer exam in NYC, passed, and was called in to start the process however I was placed under investigation for the way I answered one of the questions. I was devastated because, an officer told me, the investigation process would take years. Since I lived in PA, I decided a few short years later to test for the C.O. position in my county and see how that would go. Tested, passed, went for the interview and they selected Caucasian applicants, ONLY. Again, I was crushed. I decided at that point, maybe this field isn’t for me and pursued other avenues.
I worked in banking, property preservation, claims etc and then became pregnant with my daughter. I had a rough pregnancy (which I will touch on at a different time) and had to go out on leave sooner than expected. My FMLA ran out before it was time to return to work, so my position could no longer be held. The company told me I could reapply with them, but I decided against it since I remained close to some of my co-workers/managers and was told the work environment was no longer the same. I decided this would be a great time to revisit my dreams of working in law enforcement. Applied for the correctional officer position in a county about a hr. from where I lived. I was invited in to be tested, mind you I was about 3-4 months postpartum and completely out of shape, but figured what God has for me is for me. Boom! I passed! Was interviewed the same day and received my offer in the mail a few weeks later – it’s for me!!!… Or so I thought!
From the moment I started I experienced obstacle after obstacle. One of the first incidences was complaints about my hair. I had multiple complaints about the styles I wore stating they were inappropriate etc, mind you, I kept my hair in twist and pulled away from my face, but it was never enough. It’s “too big” they said. I mean, my hair is thick, there’s not much I can do to alter that unless I straighten it, which I wasn’t doing. They went as far as to make me and the other females in my graduating class put a helmet on our heads to ensure our hair could fit. We were all black. If it didn’t fit, we were not to be allowed to graduate. They hadn’t done this to any other females, ever. I was pissed, but I buried my emotions and stayed optimistic because, this was for me… at least that’s what I thought at the time.
I graduated from the academy and my very first day I was told by a senior officer that I needed to be a “bitch” to the inmates and being nice to them wasn’t “the way”. I’m not a bitch, I mean I can be if pushed lol, but overall that’s not my persona. I am a “you get what you give” with regards to my demeanor towards you, so if they weren’t being bitches to me, I didn’t feel the need to be that way towards them. Inmates are people too. Some commit heinous crimes and others petty crimes, but regardless, I wasn’t there to judge them or treat them like shit because I could. I have a brother that’s incarcerated and I would hate for some one to treat him that way just for the hell of it.
The way the inmates were treated, the interactions I had with fellow officers and other chains of command, the time I was spending at the facility, which took away from the time I would be with my family, began to make me despise my new career. I was no longer optimistic and started to become someone I wasn’t – bitter and depressed. I knew no amount of money could replace my happiness and the longer I stayed the more miserable I would become. March of 2018, my tenure there ended and though I was sad that my dreams of retiring from Law Enforcement were over, I was ecstatic that I stayed true to who I am and recognized that the title wasn’t shit if I wasn’t happy.
I took a few months to just decompress and enjoy my family. Celebrate my daughters 1st birthday and steps, give my husband some much deserved quality time, go out with my girls, start my blog etc. I just returned to the job force as a federal employee and I am embracing this new beginning. I’m definitely in a better space mentally and learned such a valuable lesson in this experience. God makes no mistakes. He allows you to go through experiences, and in my case attain one of my dreams and recognize it wasn’t for me, grow from them and be strong enough to move forward. I know now that in anything I do, happiness must be at the root of it all.