Name: Sgt. Amy Cooper
Hometown: Beebe, Arkansas
Title/Position: Sergeant/Public Information Officer North Little Rock Police Department
Briefly describe your role:
As the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the North Little Rock Police Department I assist news media representatives in covering routine news stories and respond to inquiries. I provide assistance at the scene of major events and prepare and distribute written press releases to the media. I arrange and coordinate news conferences when needed. I also complete Freedom of Information Act requests received by the department, assist in planning of departmental events, and assist with the maintaining and monitoring of departmental social media sites.
Q: Is what you’re doing now what you always pictured you would do?
A: I knew early on in life that I was going to be a police officer. I truly believe that this profession is a calling. 17 years later, there are still days where I am putting this uniform on and just can’t believe that I am doing what I have always wanted to do.
2 years ago I became the Public Information Officer for the Police Department. This current position was something I never envisioned myself doing. Before I entered into law enforcement I didn’t even know such a position existed. I knew that being the Public Information Officer was going to be a challenge. But, I firmly believe that we should always challenge ourselves and be open to new experiences in whatever we do.
Q: What do you see as the greatest challenges for women in your chosen industry? What are the greatest opportunities?
A: It is no secret that the Law Enforcement Profession is a male dominated one. However, the female trailblazers of decades past have paved the way and we are seeing more and more women choosing law enforcement as a career. Are there still challenges? Of course there are. Traditionally, women in law enforcement have had to “prove” themselves. We have to work just a bit harder, have a thicker skin, show that we can stand on our own, and be counted on when it mattered most just a bit more than our male co-workers. I think that is pretty standard in any male dominated profession. What amazes me is that we accept these challenges and refuse to be defined by traditional stereotypes. And, more often than not, we find that we are wildly successful. We complete the team and make departments across this country more well-rounded and a reflection of the communities we serve.
Men and Women in Law Enforcement police very differently. This is where female officers have an opportunity to shine. Women in law enforcement have a different approach with problem solving on the job. Women are good listeners and effective communicators. They have the ability to de-escalate potentially volatile situations before violence occurs. Women in law enforcement are also having a greater impact in bridging the gap for police and community relations. What greater opportunity could there be in helping reduce violence, save lives, and build relationships for peace?
Q: Who has inspired you in your life/career?
A: The biggest inspirations of my life are my parents (Bonnie Grogan and J.R. Cooper). My mother has taught me how to never give up. She has the heart of a servant and has instilled in me the desire to help others and to work hard even when it seems impossible. She used to tell me “you’ll get glad in the same pants you got mad in”. I didn’t always understand that when I was young but it means so much to me today. This phrase has taught me that sometimes things just won’t go my way but bad times are temporary and good things are always on the horizon. My father was a police officer for a time when I was very young. I always looked up to him as a representative of the profession. He taught me how to believe in something bigger than myself and the value of humility and respect for others. When we speak about the struggles of the job he has always encouraged me to hold the line, do the right thing, and to never forsake my values.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring professional?
A: This profession is a calling. Before you choose this profession make sure you have a passion for the job and strong desire to serve others. This profession is unlike any other. Be committed to being a positive influence and try each day to make a difference. Understand that there are sacrifices that will have to be made in service to the greater good. The potential for the ultimate sacrifice will always be present; this is no easy burden to bear. Despite the stresses and burdens, push forward and always do the right thing. This profession can be the most terrifying and most rewarding career one could have. Never sacrifice your integrity and hold tight to your values. Respect everyone you come into contact with no matter the situation. We are in the struggle of life together, never forget that.
Q: What’s been your secret to success?
A: I don’t know if there is a “secret” to the success I have had in my career. I suppose I would have to say that I have maintained my focus on the task at hand and have made sure that my priorities never wavered from the mission to protect and serve. We may not be able to save the world but we sure can make a big difference in our small corner. To sum it all up I will use a definition of love that fundamentally changed my life as a young professional in law enforcement, “give of yourself for the good others expecting nothing in return”. I believe that there is no greater secret to success in both the professional or private worlds than doing just that.