Marietta police officer Katie Warden didn't follow in the family footsteps when she decided to go into law enforcement. She just followed her heart.
"My dad works at Washington State and my brother is a chef," she said. "But this is something I've known that I always wanted to do."
Warden has been with the Marietta police department for 11 years and is only the third female officer in the history of the department.
ERIN O’NEILL The Marietta Times
Marietta police officer Katie Warden uses a laser gun to watch for speeders on Wednesday. Warden is one of two female officers currently on the force and the third in the city’s history.
"The first was Anita Meek and then Diana (Hively) and then me," she said. "If you had asked me when I was 21 why I wanted to become a police officer, I would have said 'to help people and to save the world.' I still like to help people but I also like that it is a unique job - it's something different every day - and sitting in a cubicle is just not for me."
Warden received her bachelor of criminal justice degree from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio and joined the Marietta force in 2001.
"I wasn't certified when I joined so they sent me to the Ohio State Highway Patrol academy for four months," she said. "It was very intense - like boot camp."
- Age: 32
- Residence: Marietta
- Family: Husband, Marc; two sons ages 5 and 2.
- Education: Associate's degree in Spanish from Washington State Community College; Bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Bowling Green State University.
- Occupation: Police officer with the City of Marietta.
About this series
"Women Working" is a series of articles featuring local women working in traditionally male-dominated fields.
If you know of a woman who should be featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of the training, Warden said she didn't much care for the running but, as a female, she is able to use other avenues to deal with situations and each officer has a different strength. There is often a misconception that women aren't able to be police officers because they lack the strength of a man, a notion Warden is quick to dimiss.
"I think there are still biases. I don't see them in my department but I network with other women and (the thoughts) are there," she said. "But women have the same sense and brains that God gave men so I don't have to be able to benchpress 600 pounds. I can find other ways."
Like most jobs, there was a probationary period and a time to get to know the other officers of the department.
"You do have to go through the same rookie system as everyone else, you have to prove yourself and you have to gain the trust of the other officers," she said.
Getting to know others in the field lead to Warden meeting her husband, Marc, a Marietta firefighter. Now her husband and her sons, ages 2 and 5, are her motivation for getting home safe and sound each night, even though the risk is great in both of their jobs.
"I've been on traffic control and watched him run into a burning building. But he knows what's he's doing and he knows I know what I'm doing," she said. "We've been doing this long enough."
When the job gets tough, Warden said she is glad to have her husband as a sounding board. They don't often work at the same time to lessen the chance of both of them being hurt. But there have been frightening moments.
There was one tense situation when Warden injured her leg on the job and the call went out that "Katie's down." Her husband Marc was at the firehouse at the time and ran to her aid, not knowing the severity of her injuries.
"He got there and he said 'oh, it's just your leg. I thought you got shot,'" Warden chuckled.
And there are lighthearted moments that occur in a job that deals with all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. She recalls one particularly amusing incident.
"One time I was called to a traffic crash. There was a 9-year-old boy driving a standard, it was going around in circles and he hit a trailer," she said. "The deck part fell off and the dad comes running out, falls off the end of the trailer and I think he broke his leg. So I said, 'is this an injury crash?'," she joked.
Still, other times the job isn't meant for the squeamish. Warden specializes in sex crimes and it is something that is especially troubling in this area.
"We don't have a lot of shootings but I think this area has a high rate of interfamilial sex crimes and I don't know why that is," she said.
Being a woman and a mom gives her a different perspective on dealing with children and other victims of these personal crimes. She said that some women are just better equipped to handle such situations.
"I would rather have someone like me, who is passionate about what they're doing, handle these situations than an officer who is only there because he has to be and is uncomfortable," she said. "One of the most satisfying things for me is to put a child molester in jail."
Though violent acts also seem to be up across the board since she started as a police officer in 2001, there are still some good things about being in a small town.
"We have a lot of traffic crashes and fights but nothing, usually, that's too intense." She added that the job is often described as being 99 percent boredom, 1 percent pay off.
And when all is said and done, when Warden goes home each night, she leaves her job of police officer behind and takes on the role of wife and mother.
"I'm a bit of an alpha when I'm in there with all those alpha males but when I go home, I like to be a girly girl," she said.
So what does she think of the idea of one or both sons following in the footsteps of mom or dad?
"Both professions are honorable and I would like to say that I am leaving them with a safer place than we started out with," she said. "But I think my husband and I agree, we would like our kids to be a doctor."