Officer Casey Croucher can often be seen throughout Milpitas, riding her motorcycle while wearing a bright pink scarf around her neck.
She’s the first woman at the Milpitas Police Department (MPD) to have ever been on a motorcycle. Not only that, but she’s one of 3 female motorcycle cops in all of Santa Clara County.
“I like breaking barriers,” said Officer Croucher, who has been working for the department for the last 13 years. “I figured that when I got this position, it might make other women think to themselves that if I can do it, they can do it, too.”
In order to get the position, one must pass a 2-week-long Motor Academy, which Croucher says has a current fail rate of 70%.
“I think there is probably some intimidation when it comes to the motorcycle,” said Officer Croucher.
She is one of 16 women who work for MPD as a sworn law enforcement officer. Currently, 18% of MPD’s police officers are female. This is above the national average of 13%.
Out of MPD’s total staff, 36% are women. There are 76 males and 43 females working there, including full-time sworn officers along with other professionals.
At present, 4 of the women at the department are in supervisory positions.
“We previously had a female Commander, and 2 female Lieutenants, who all retired in the past 8 years,” shared MPD Police Chief Jared Hernandez. “We have a lot of talented women in our organization and I definitely look forward to seeing our female counterparts continue to advance and fill leadership positions in our organization.”
Chief Hernandez told The Beat that he wants all of the “women officers to have the same opportunities as anyone else.”
The department is committed to developing employees internally, and offers mentorship and leadership training for all. For example, each year, when the Women Leaders in Law Enforcement conference rolls around, the MPD allows women time off of work to attend. Men are also welcome to go as well.
Since June 2020, Lisa Beaulieu has been working as a Business Management Analyst for MPD. She is the first person to have ever held this position for the department, as it was recently created to help relieve some of the leadership team of higher-level admin duties.
Beaulieu works closely with the Police Chief, Assistant Chief, and Captains, all of whom are male.
“I can say without hesitation that this is the most I’ve ever felt valued and appreciated for the work I do,” said Beaulieu. “In my role, I’m given opportunities to weigh in on collaborative discussions, and trusted to take on new and challenging projects.”
Tara Mansky is one of MPD’s 2 female canine officers. The canine handler who had the position before her was also a woman.
Tara enjoys working with her dog, whom she spends a great deal of time with, as she also lives with her. Since canine handlers tend to be scarce in the region, Officer Mansky supports other law enforcement agencies if they’re in need of such an officer’s help.
Officer Mansky is 5’2’’. But she doesn’t feel that her size in any way deters her from her responsibilities:
“Some women might be smaller or maybe not as athletic as men, but we also fill a role where we have sometimes better communication with people,” said Mansky. “I’m not big, but I can use my words and talk people into handcuffs, and reason with people. I really like that Milpitas has utilized women with the skills that we bring.”
Consistent with research that has shown that women tend to excel more at communication, out of MPD’s 11 dispatchers, all but 2 of them are women.
Kimberley Hagan has been a dispatcher at MPD for the past 31 years, answering all incoming 911 and emergency line calls. After hours, dispatchers handle the business lines, as well.
“Our job requires us to ask people questions to get specific information that we need in order to determine what kind of help they need, or even if the police or fire department can help them,” shared Hagan. “We are a vital link between the public and the police and fire departments. We have to gather information quickly and efficiently because that information could include potential hazards to the responding personnel.”
Hagan notes that they also serve as quasi-detectives, taking small details from callers and “while utilizing the systems at our disposal, can come [up] with important information needed by our officers.”
Hagan also noted that the current Chief of Police and Assistant Chief, as well as one of the Captains, all got their start in dispatch.
“I trained them all,” Hagan said.
Michelle Sanchez has been a Police Officer for MPD for about 7 years. She is a Detective in the Criminal Investigations Bureau, and works to investigate property crimes and missing person cases. She is also a Polygraph Examiner and a Recruiter.
As the only current female detective at the Milpitas Police Department, Detective Sanchez feels that the work environment is one in which women are truly valued.
When asked why there aren’t as many women as men in her field, Sanchez shared: “I hear many stories on why women hesitate to apply. What I hear the most frequently is prospective female applicants believe they are not physically strong to do the job.”
Like Officer Mansky, Detective Sanchez finds that women police officers are able to diffuse tense situations through communication without the need for physical strength.
Chief Hernandez believes that women are able to serve in law enforcement just as well as men can.
“Women are just as competent as men and women have so many skill sets that make them great police officer candidates. Even though policing is predominantly made up of men, don’t be deterred,” stated Chief Hernandez. “Three of my last 9 police officer hires were women and I have 4 more vacancies, so get those applications in!”
People like Officer Croucher are appreciative of the welcoming environment at the Milpitas Police Department.
“I’ve never felt treated differently here because I’m a woman. I’ve always felt like an equal amongst my peers,” said Croucher. “That, to me, is a big deal.”
Croucher also made it clear that, despite her job as a motorcycle cop, she is still super-feminine and likes to wear pink nail polish.
“I can still keep my femininity and kick butt like the guys,” said Officer Croucher. “And they don’t look at me any differently.”