Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Female Power: Officer Kaitlin Staes

Janie Le
Kaitlin Staes, the only Augustana female police officer, works at her office desk. Photo by Janie Le.

For Kaitlin Staes, being a police officer was inevitable. Her father, uncle, and brother are all officers, and although they weren’t excited about her decision, they understood her passion.
“I really wanted to help people,” Staes said. “I am biased because I’ve grown up around officers, but I really enjoy my job.”
Staes said that it was difficult for her family to accept that she wanted to go into the force.
“They were more reluctant to accept that I wanted to join the force,” she said.
Staes father, Officer Mark Staes of the Rock Island Police Department, was not exactly thrilled of the idea of his daughter becoming a police officer.
“I worked for 20 years as a police officer, and I knew firsthand what kind of toll it takes; emotionally, physically, and socially,” he said. “However, after some time, I grew accustomed to the idea, and after her younger brother showed interest in following Kaitlin’s goals, I became proud of both of my children.”
Staes brother, Officer Travis Staes of the East Moline Police Department, believes women and men’s skills set are at times very different, especially within their line of work.
“Physically, by nature I believe that men are just naturally bigger and stronger. Just as I think women are naturally more understanding and calming,” Travis Staes said. “But those can interchange very easily. Once you put on the blue uniform, it doesn’t matter your sex, age, color or background.”
Although women are given the same opportunity to complete testing to become a police officer, they have different goals that they have to reach.
Travis Staes notes that women are not responsible to lift as much in the bench press, they are given more time during the mile run and half run, and have to complete less sit ups within the same age bracket as men.
Officer Mark Staes believes that women are a necessity to the police force.
“Women police officers can bring a unique aid to the department,” Mark Staes said. “ I also believe women in law enforcement have to push themselves harder when among some of their male counterparts.”
Public Safety officer Tom Phillis believes gender should not hold anyone back from becoming a police officer.
“The law enforcement profession is a good career for a variety of people. Our mission is to help people, keep the community safe and arrest those who choose to break the established laws of our city, county, state and nation,” Phillis said. “A person’s gender has no bearing on whether they are a good or competent officer. What matters is their communication skills, honesty, integrity, courage and willingness to sacrifice themselves and many times, moments with their families for their job.”
Kaitlin is currently the only female officer at Augustana College.
Phillis said he believes that Kaitlin has chosen this profession for the right reasons, and he is really happy and proud to have her in the department.
Kaitlin believes that female officers are able to connect with individuals on a more emotional level than male officers.
“This is a physical career, but we tend to see people at their worst,” she said. “It is generally easier for females to connect with people on a different level.”
She said she has no problem sitting down with people who need someone to talk to.
“I have no problem sitting down and talking with individuals who need an ear,” she said. “Most of the time, situations can be diffused by simply listening to what people have to say.”
Both Mark Staes and Travis Staes believe respect in the field earned and not given.
“I show respect to everyone else but have done nothing to deserve it back. Women are just as capable at this job as men,” Travis Staes said. “I don’t think it matters whether you’re male or female, as long as you can do your job, and do it well without constantly having people fix your mistakes.”
Although Kaitlin has never had to use her firearm, she believes it is important that everyone learns how to use a gun.
“People should learn how to use guns because just increasing gun control isn’t going to stop active shooters,” she said.
Kaitlin is currently training to become an official police officer. Her training will be completed in December, but she plans on taking training sessions throughout her career.

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Female Power: Officer Kaitlin Staes