Commander Burlingame has been with the Mesa Police Department since 1997. Some of her assignments include Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer, Bike Officer, Gang Detective, SCAT Detective, CAT Sergeant, Patrol Sergeant, and Aviation Sergeant. Below are some questions we asked Commander Burlingame reference her experiences with the Mesa Police Department.
What made you want to get into a career in Law Enforcement?
I met some friends who were police officers, two of which were women. The job sounded like something I'd be interested in -- exciting, challenging, and worthwhile.
What concerns did your family and friends have with you becoming a police officer and did their concerns change after successful completion of your training?
My family was concerned about my safety. Their concerns lessened when I took them on a ride-along and they saw the people I worked with and how we interacted.
Did you find it hard to compete with male officers during the academy and FTO program?
Not at all.
How do you balance the scale between family life and shift work?
It is difficult, sometimes tiring and takes commitment to both. You need to have the support of your family.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation you could not handle because you were a female?
Did you have any issues getting hired and how did you cope with the academy physical fitness requirements?
No and the physical fitness requirements were not that difficult because I was prepared.
What do you feel you bring to Mesa PD because of being a female officer?
Perhaps a different perspective and way of handling things.
Do you feel that Mesa PD is a diversified department and should the department seek harder to hire more female officers?
We are diversified, we just don't have enough people period.
Give one example of a situation where being a female officer helped defuse the situation?
We were dealing with a mentally impaired violent subject. He did not want to talk with or cooperate with my fellow officers. I took a different approach and talked and joked with him in a light-hearted manner. He completely changed his demeanor and was cooperative and polite, even though he was arrested and booked.
What is your most memorable experience as a police officer?
Working undercover operations.
Do you feel the department has been supportive in assisting you to reach your career goals?
What advise would you give to women who want to become police officers?
Prepare yourself for the academy physically; don't get discouraged; be confident in your abilities; and remember there will be good days and bad days, but the good ones make it worthwhile.
If you would like to contact Commander Burlingame, please send her an e-mail atSharon.Burlingame@Mesaaz.gov.