Meet Radford University’s Two Female Officers

The only two female police officers talk about their experience growing up in the area and their work with RUPD.

Police

Photo by ev: Both ladies were born and raised in the New River Valley area and stayed here to serve their community.

By Montasia Braxton | mbraxton4@radford.edu

It is a known fact that in the beginning, Radford University was an all-girls school, and according to the factbook, it is currently attended by more females than males. 

Ironically, its police department, which is right across the street from the school, has the complete opposite demographics.

Radford University’s Police Department only has two female law enforcement officers on the squad. Those officers are Whitney Gray and Emily Stike.

[epq-quote align=”align-left”]The two women make history each day as they challenge gender norms and serve the Radford community.[/epq-quote]

The two women make history each day as they challenge gender norms and serve the Radford community.

Both ladies were born and raised in the New River Valley area and stayed here to serve their community.

According to Gray’s mother, she used to tie her dolls up and play cops and robbers as a little girl. When she grew up, she went to New River Community College and majored in political science.

Gray also attended the New River Criminal Justice Training Academy and graduated in 2009. She’s been employed with the Radford University Police Department ever since.

When it comes to gender norms and barriers, Gray said it was a little intimidating being the only female in the environment.

“My experience in the academy helped because there I was not treated any different because of my gender,” Gray said.

According to her, the hardest part of the job is seeing everyone she interacts with on their worst days. This is why she’s so passionate about community policing.

[epq-quote align=”align-right”]This is why she’s so passionate about community policing.[/epq-quote]

“My career goals have always been to have positive impacts on others and help those in need,” Gray said, “It’s my hope to be given the opportunity to work in a position where the primary duties are community outreach/crime prevention.”

Gray recently received her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Liberty University. 

Gray is still furthering her education today by getting certified as a Crime Prevention Specialist.

Both of the two female officers on the squad identified sexual assault cases as the hardest to deal with.

“Being a woman, I’m usually the one that has to speak to the victim in those incidents,” Stike said. “It’s hard to see people in that kind of pain.”

Stike, who also has her bachelor’s in criminal justice, graduated from Radford in 2012.

[epq-quote align=”align-left”]Stike, who also has her bachelor’s in criminal justice, graduated from Radford in 2012.[/epq-quote]

She has been working for the university’s police department for a little over three years.

Stike said she never expected to be a police officer; she just knew she was interested in criminal justice.

“I knew it would be a good opportunity to help people,” Strike said, “Also to help give back to my community.”

Stike shared an essential life lesson that her mother taught her that she uses every day at work – the ability to look at life through someone else’s eyes. 

Stike said she is lucky to work with a great group of compassionate and caring people like herself.

Stike said that she notices the disparity in male officers versus females, and she is hopeful that more women will become interested in the profession.

[epq-quote align=”align-right”]Stike said that she notices the disparity in male officers versus females, and she is hopeful that more women will become interested in the profession.[/epq-quote]

According to the Census Bureau, nationally, the number of females in law enforcement has been rising. But in Radford, the numbers have been low and steady.

“In my opinion, larger cities tend to be more diverse and inclusive in most aspects, which could lead to larger numbers of women in stereotypically male-dominated fields,” Gray said.

She also urged women to ignore the social concept of gender and keep fighting for equality and inclusivity. Officer Gray described it as a hard road, but one worth taking. 

“By breaking those barriers, it will help pave the way for those who come after you,” Gray said.

With March being Women’s History Month, the two officers came up with a challenge for all the women reading this article,

Since the 19th amendment granted equal rights to women and men, #1iberatin9 can be used to “remind the world that women will never stop putting forth hard work and grit to rise above all obstacles in the future,” said Gray.

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