Dreadlocks Spotlight continues to roll with, Women in Law Enforcement, featuring local York Regional Police Officer, Chantal Muirhead.
Chantal Muirhead, 34 years old, I live in Vaughn and I’m a police officer with York Regional Police.
What motivated you to become a Police Officer?
When I was 21 I was in between jobs and I had a car accident (of all things). I went to the reporting centre and I spoke to a Toronto Police Officer and just in talking with him he commented that I would make a really great Police Officer and he thought it was a career that I should consider and prior to that it wasn’t something I was interested in but I listened to what he said and I started researching into it and within a year, a couple years, I applied and got hired as a Police Officer.
Biggest false myth about Police Officers?
Besides the donuts (laughing), I’d say the biggest myth that people think is that its this big ‘brother hood’ and there’s this code of silence. Most officers out there, when they see another officers doing something bad or something wrong they don’t agree necessarily or they know what the officer has done is wrong. I think a lot of officers are afraid to come forward and speak out because they don’t want to be a pariah. You know, they don’t want to be singled out even though they know that you know necessarily that someone’s done something wrong. It’s not a ‘brother hood’ when we see officers out there breaking the law and violating people’s rights and doing things that they shouldn’t.
Most satisfying aspect of being a Police Officer?
One of the most satisfying things about my job is its never the same thing everyday. I’m a Uniform Patrol Officer so I’m out on the road and I get to meet different people, see different people, do different calls every single day, see people from different walks of life. I’ve even met people who were extremely wealthy, right down to the homeless people I’ve dealt with in the day… some people the happiest time in there lives, some people the worst, most crucial part of there lives. So to be a part of that, to interact with people, to get to help them or calm there fears, to just assist people that’s the best part in the job that I enjoy doing.
What is the future outlook for women in law enforcement?
I think women can only go up in policing. There isn’t enough of us in my opinion but a I’m hoping as time goes on more women apply, become police officers, ascend the ranks, go into different positions and different roles within policing, especially black females, there’s definitely not enough of us out there. I think that’s one of the biggest hurdles, not just getting black females to apply into policing, but also getting them to ascend through the ranks, getting them into positions in-charge of special units. Its a huge hurdle, part of the reason is that black females are not applying according to some of the police sources out there. I think that if black females were given the chance and came in, we are a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think that there is anything out there that we couldn’t do if we put our minds to it, especially black women. Its a hurdle applying and getting in, ascending through the ranks and other positions, but I don’t think that should deter any woman, especially Black Women from applying because you can’t make a change unless women apply, so its important for women to apply.
Up for the challenge? A career with the York Regional Police starts here
Discuss the importance of good relations between Police and the average citizen
At the end of the day I’m still an average person. Just because I’m a Police Officer doesn’t make me better than anyone else. I take off my uniform, I go home and I have a family that I have to take care of just like anyone else. Also, you have to have that good rapport, that good relationship with the citizens. You can’t solve crimes, you can’t police a community where you don’t have a good relationship with. That’s evident with the things that are going on in the states in Ferguson, Missouri and Boston. The relationship is not there and this is why your seeing a lot of the issues. There’s other things as well, race issue and things like that, but if you don’t have a good relationship with the people that your trying to police then your not going to get very far as a Police Officer in assisting those people. They’re not going to want to help you and you won’t be able to do your job effectively. It is very important to have a good relationship with the community that your policing.
“I love the versatility of my dreadlocks. I can wear them curly, I can wear them straight, I can wear them wavy, braids, ponytails, pigtails, up-do’s, down-do’s, there is nothing that dreadlocks can’t do”
Why natural dreadlocks?
For years my hair wouldn’t grow past my shoulders, it was cracked, it was damaged, had to be cut all the time and thinning. A few years ago my husband and I started doing more research into our African roots, dreadlocks was one of the first styles that I saw and fell in love with. I said this is something that I want to do, I want to lock my hair! I went out to an event with my husband and I saw this lady with the most beautiful dreadlocks. I turned to my husband and said “I’m gonna to do this”, and he looked at me and said “Are your sure? You can’t just do this on a whim”. I said, “No, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time you know that, but I’m committed. I’m going to do it”. I thought about it a little bit longer and the following year in February I made the commitment and I locked my hair. It’s been five and a half years and the best hair decision I ever made.
What do you loves most about your dreadlocks?
I love the versatility of my dreadlocks. I can wear them curly, I can wear them straight, I can wear them wavy, braids, ponytails, pigtails, up-do’s, down-do’s, there is nothing that dreadlocks can’t do. I love that about it. I love the uniqueness. I don’t look like everyone else. Even if another person has dreadlocks their dreadlocks may be thicker than mine, thinner than mine. So, I love the fact that my dreadlocks are unique and brings that uniqueness. I’ve had a lot of people actually through my work approach me to say like, “You have dreadlocks? How could you be a Police Officer and have dreadlocks?”. People think that you can’t be a professional and have dreadlocks but you can. Dreadlocks are beautiful and they can look very professional.
Best advice to achieve long and healthy dreadlocks?
I don’t re-twist too often. I found early in my stages that I was re-twisting and it was causing my dreadlocks to thin a little bit so I don’t re-twist as often. I make sure I wash, proper washing. Everyone always thinks that you can’t wash your dreadlocks, but you can. So good general hair care mean washing, tying your hair down at night and removing any lint from your dreadlocks. If you can’t do maintenance yourself make sure you have someone like Melonie do it for you to make sure your dreadlocks reach its optimal stage. I’m five and a half years in and I couldn’t be more happier with the way they look right now.