The Right Stuff
This Saturday, June 7, the Ukiah Airport will celebrate Airport Day. Airport Day is a wonderful event, where you can get an up-close view of all types of airplanes, enjoy great food, and see some fantastic flying demonstrations.
Ukiah Airport Day starts at 9:00 am, and at 11:00 am, a large Coast Guard C130 military transport airplane is scheduled to do a fly-over.
Those who venture out to the airport will have a chance to see the CALFIRE fire attack bombers and the CALSTAR medical helicopter. Both of these important first-responder aircrafts are based right here at our airport.
You’ll also get a chance to see a number of military aircraft, which will fly in for the day. If you’re a thrill seeker, you’ll even be able to buy a ride on a few of the aircraft.
Local non-profits will be selling delicious food, and the airport plans to offer a jump house and water slide for the kids.
You’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m an airplane enthusiast. As a young boy – in addition to Superman (who could travel faster than a speeding bullet) – airplanes and airplane pilots really inspired me.
A real-life, boyhood hero I always wanted to be like was Chuck Yeager, one of the world’s best test pilots and the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. When I was a kid, reading about Chuck Yeager in the book by Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff, was amazing.
Another pilot who truly exhibited the right stuff was Jackie Cochran, nicknamed “the fastest women alive.” Jackie began breaking airplane speed records in the 1930’s and bested nine men in a Los Angeles-to-Cleveland air race in 1938.
During World War II, Jackie was the first woman to fly a military plane across the Atlantic Ocean. Most importantly for me, Jackie was the first woman to fly faster than the speed of sound, shortly after Chuck Yeager.
In an arena heavily dominated by men, Jackie proved she could fly as fast as anyone. She really had the right stuff.
Like being a female pilot in the 1930s, being a female law enforcement officer – even today – requires the right stuff. When I became a police officer almost 30 years ago, I was given a badge that said policeman rather than police officer—it was just assumed anyone who would be getting the badge would be a man. While we’ve come a long way, law enforcement remains a male-dominated profession and many stereotypes about serving in law enforcement as a woman still exist.
I am often told how dangerous the law enforcement profession has become, and that only men have the physical strength to be successful in law enforcement. But in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Women do have the physical traits to be successful officers – and many other traits that often set them apart from their male counterparts.
PoliceOne, a national police magazine, said that because female officers utilize a different policing style and rely less on physical force and more on communications skills, potentially violent confrontations are less likely to occur or escalate into excessive force situations. These communications skills also help female officers become excellent coaches and supervisors within police organizations. And significantly, these communication skills help decrease citizen complaints and civil lawsuits.
Today, women represent nearly 12 percent of the approximately 700,000 police officers in the U.S., according to data submitted to the FBI.
I believe that number needs to grow. We desperately need more women within the law enforcement profession.
Here at the Ukiah Police Department (UPD), we are extremely lucky to have many women on our team: three front office personnel, eleven dispatchers, one community service officer, and two sworn officers – all of whom daily demonstrate the right stuff for our organization and for the Ukiah community.
And, our department is continuously looking to fill open officer positions.
If you are a woman considering a career in law enforcement, UPD could be a great place to start. Michelle Maldonado – one of our department’s female officers – started her career with our department as a community service officer.
Michelle grew up here in Ukiah, attended Ukiah High School, and after high school considered a career in law enforcement. After working successfully as a community service officer, Michelle attended the police academy and has been working as a police officer since 2008.
Michelle is a martial arts expert, masterful communicator, and was just recently selected to act as a Field Training Officer; now training and mentoring new officers who join the department.
Isabel Madrigal, the department’s other female officer, developed an interest in law enforcement while in high school. Isabel worked as a police cadet and volunteered with a number of departments and victim organizations before attending the police academy in Santa Rosa.
Since January of 2013, Isabel has worked as a UPD officer. She speaks fluent Spanish and has taken a keen interest in investigating drug and gang-related criminal activities.
Our department is extremely lucky to have Officers Maldonado and Madrigal, and the many other female professionals who help create the department’s diverse staff.
If you’re interested in a career in law enforcement, the Ukiah Police Department is looking for a few more men and women who just might have the right stuff.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.