Lilly Haish, my sister, is one of two females in a law enforcement class at Kishwaukee College in Malta, Ill.
Although my sister has faced some skepticism from some of her 13 male classmates, she’s pursuing her dream and pushing back against the doubt and society’s criticisms.
“Thinking about becoming a female police officer is hard,” she said. “I feel like I’ll have to meet high expectations to show I’m not just some girly-girl cop. Like, I’m here to get the job done just as good as any man can.”
She’s just in the beginning stages of pursuing her career; she’s in her first year at Kishwaukee College. She was part of the Kishwaukee Education Consortium’s Student Police Academy and has been on the lookout for additional volunteer and learning opportunities.
After Kishwaukee, she hopes to move on to Western Illinois University. She’d someday like to work for either Sycamore or Chicago police, maybe even as a homicide detective. She’s not sure where the road will lead her.
One thing’s for certain, though: there’s no turning back now, although she does have some concerns.
“Just because of how cops can be portrayed in the media now, I’m concerned someone will think I’m a bad person just because I want to be a cop,” she said. “I don’t think [I’m a bad person] because of the reasons I want to be a cop. Part of it is to leave a legacy, to feel like I did something important with my life.”
She’s consciously taking steps to prepare herself for life as a police officer.
“Sometimes when I get stressed, I try to just remain super calm, because as a police officer, if you get mad, you can’t just scream at someone,” she said. “Sometimes when I’m driving or walking around, I try to work on being aware of things around me. I think that’s something that can’t be taught in a classroom, but it’s something that could be lifesaving someday.”
Her initial interest in the career came innocently enough.
“I liked to watch ‘Criminal Minds,’ ‘Castle,’ ‘Law and Order: SVU,’ ‘CSI: Miami,’” she said. “That’s why I first thought of [the career.] I think a lot of it though, has a lot to do with growing up in Sycamore; they’re all such good cops, such friendly cops. I feel like if I had grown up somewhere else I wouldn’t have had the same decision.”
Her powder puff football coaches in high school were members of Sycamore Police Department. She found their attitudes and work ethic inspiring. And her passion goes beyond the glitz, glamour and drama on shows like “Blue Bloods” and “Law and Order.”
“I want to try to stop some of the bad in the world,” she said. “I see a lot of stuff in the news that bothers me, and if I can stop even just some of that, I think that’s a big deal.”