Jo Woods: Police Officer
What’s a typical day on the job like?
A typical day starts out by being set up with a colleague and a vehicle that is assigned to us for the entire 12-hour shift. From here our duty is to attend all outstanding jobs in order of priority, this can include anything from following up on a stolen motor vehicle to checking in with a high-priority job such as an incident of domestic violence.
Why did you choose a career in law enforcement?
I’d always thought about policing as something I’d like to do, but the person who really inspired me to do it was my Dad. He retired from his job as a detective sergeant in the NSW police force back in 2005. Seeing and hearing the way he spoke about the job, both the ups and the downs, encouraged both me and my older brother to apply.
What would you say are the three most important characteristics you need to be a good police officer?
Patience, understanding and empathy.
What has your job taught you about yourself?
I’ve learned that I’m able to adapt to any situation according to what is needed, as some jobs we attend have the chance to escalate and I have to be prepared for anything that could arise, both physically and mentally.
What’s been your best moment in your career?
The day I graduated was such an exhilarating feeling! After eight months of hard work I had my family there to share the moment with me.
What can be hard about your job?
A hard moment that does happen quite often is attending a job that involves someone who has died. The parts I find hard is having to engage with the deceased person’s family, who are distraught. I find it difficult to see the loss these people have experienced while still trying to be strong and professional in my actions towards them.
What helps you get through the tough times?
We do have access to a lot of support, but I would have to say I always turn to my dad for advice and draw on his past experiences and knowledge to help me through any challenges.
What is an aspect of your job that would surprise people?
Paperwork, lots of it!!! After a 12-hour shift of going from job to job, many reports need to be made up for record-keeping purposes or for further investigation.
Can you share a funny or weird story from your job?
A funny story would have to be when we had to assist a man in his house with a possum, as he was scared and didn’t know how to get it out, and neither did we! That was a funny job to attend.
What would you say to a person who is considering a career in law enforcement?
I’d tell them how rewarding it is to be a police officer, as the feeling of helping someone is indescribable. However, I would also tell them that the job has its hard days, which come more often than you think. You have to be able to adapt to situations and try to not allow certain situations to affect you, but also be able to talk about it with colleagues or professionals if something does affect you or them.
Has the pandemic had an impact on the work you do?
With Covid-19 and working in the epicentre of Ryde, the job is still the same but there is great added pressure due to fears of getting the virus and wondering if it will affect not only me but my family too, if, say, I take it home to them. However, in saying this and knowing all the risk, I’m still glad to be able to be out there and help in the community at this time.
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