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What it Takes: Female police officer, firefighter discuss breaking barriers

what it takes female police officer and firefighter
Posted at 3:12 PM, Mar 27, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — WRTV's "What it Takes" series is taking you behind the scenes of what it takes to be a police officer, first responder or EMT.

With police and fire both being male-dominated careers, WRTV wanted to see what it takes to break the brass ceiling.

There are currently six women at the Lawrence Police Department. Stacy Hinshaw has been there for 15 years.

“There are no exceptions. We don't have anything that we can do like easier or lighter because we are a female,” Hinshaw sadi.

Being held to the same standards may be more difficult for a female than a male, but Hinshaw said it makes her stronger.

“There are times we have to prove ourselves definitely a little bit more but because of that, I think it's definitely made me stronger,” Hinshaw said.

She’s hoping over the next decade or so, the police department grows from 10% to nearly 50% women.

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Officer Stacy Hinshaw with other female police officers

“I have so many like young women tell me like 'I would love to be a police officer, I would love to do it, I just don't know if I could,' and I think that 50% of it is just believing in yourself,” Hinshaw said.

In Carmel, Renee Butts is one of three females on the city’s fire department.

“Everybody that gets here has to prove themselves no matter whether you're male or female,” Butts said.

She followed in her father’s footsteps, starting as a volunteer firefighter before going full-time. She and her husband inspired their son to do the same.

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Carmel Firefighter Renee Butts smiles with her husband and son, who are also firefighters.

“If you can physically do it and you have the right mental attitude and you're here to help people, then you're perfect for this job,” Butts said.

Like the police department, the physical requirements don’t differ between male and female.

Butts has moved her way up in the department. She started as a firefighter, then an engineer, then a paramedic and now she’s the public education officer. In that role, she teaches kids how to react in an emergency and acts as a role model.

“I have direct access to all the kids about these things and if I happen to be a role model for girls then that's great. Like if they can look at me and say 'Hey, I can do this too,' then that's awesome but I hope it's a role model for all the kids,” Butts said.