AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — There are still tons of fields that are dominated by men. Law enforcement, architecture, STEM and sports are just a few of those fields. Amarillo Police Department Public Office Sgt. Carla Burr has been working in the police department for 30 years.
When Burr began her career in the police force there were about 25 women on the force. With around 300 male officers in the department, women officers made up less than 10% of the force.
“It was 1995-96 and still a lot of you can’t do that because you are a girl. And I have always been that girl like watch me. So that was like the other side of it,” said Burr. “When they were telling me. You are not going to be able to do that because you are a girl, and you are not that big. And I was like hide and watch, here I go.”
Burr said when she was working on the force there were still lots of stereotypes about women officers that she would hear.
“There was still a lot of just you know women aren’t meant to fight. And not that we get into fights all the time, but it happens, we know that. And you know women aren’t going to be able to take control of somebody or take control of the situation,” she added. “Those are kind of assumptions still that a lot of people had both within police and outside of police.”
Burr mentioned that many would ask her when she was on patrol if she will get sent with backup, because of the assumption that women are not strong enough. She said that it takes way more than that to be a great officer.
“It’s about using your brain and using your gift of talking to people. And anybody can do that if they want to. And having the heart to serve the community,” she added.
Burr talked more about what it takes to be an officer.
“Your job is to make that so the next time something happens that they remember that this officer helped me. That is our job and to get the bad guy if that is what we need to do. But make it right for them so that they can have the service that they need from our community. And who wouldn’t want to be a part of that.”
She said that her time patrolling and working with the community was some of the best moments in her career.
“I worked with a great group of guys in the squad that I was on. And they were truly my brothers and they supported me; I supported them. We worked great together, and it was honestly, some of the best memories that I have from my career,” said Burr. “From those, that time on patrol and working with the community and getting to help people and getting to go to calls.”
Burr mentioned that when she was starting in the police force, she remembers her first time being called to a shooting.
“Early on I had the opportunity to go to a call where a person has been shotting at some houses. I was in the area looking for him and got flagged down by a citizen that was like, hey he is right there,” she said. “That probably was the most intense situation because when we arrested him, he actually had the gun. It was the closet I’ve been to being in a shooting with someone.”
Burr added that many of the things that she witnessed during her career have been things that others only see in movies.
“She drives onto the airport and drives down the tarmac and goes through all the lights. Then her car flips like five times, I thought surely, she is not going to make it, said Burr. “When we get down to her car, she is hanging in the seatbelt wide awake, not even a starch on her.”
She added that since she started her career in the police force APD has increased the number of women officers. According to Burr, currently, the department has around 40 women officers, but they still have a long way to go.
“We have five ladies in the current police academy that is going. And back when I was going through you would have one or two and then you would have three or four academies with all men. And now we are starting to see three to five to six, seven women in every academy. So that is a definite positive change.”
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