Want a career in law enforcement? That's a challenging question, especially given the current "cancel culture" mentality. It's tough to be in law enforcement right now.
If you're even thinking about it, Sarah Shendy wants to meet you. Shendy is a Law Enforcement Recruitment Administrator for the state of Ohio, and a police officer for the city of Copley. But in reality, she is so much more. Genuine and passionate, her mission is to get people interested in a career in law enforcement, not an easy task. She also wants to empower and protect those in her community, much like Mace® Brand. Our missions travel down similar paths and focus around the personal safety and well-being of others. She believes in leading by example.
Can one police officer really make that much of a difference? Talk to Sarah Shendy for just a couple of minutes, and you'll find your answer.
Shendy's road to becoming a police officer and law enforcement recruiter was not a path she imagined growing up. Born into a Muslim household, she lived in Egypt and Saudi Arabia as a child. Her family moved to the United States when she was 6. She soon noticed her structured home life was much different than the home life of most of her friends. Those differences would later help mold Shendy's outlook and approach to her everyday life.
She went to college at Kent State University, not really knowing what she wanted to study. She was always drawn to the kids who got into trouble, juvenile delinquents. She says she felt the need to help them, and thought with some guidance and discipline, she could make a difference. Her passion for inspiring young people led her to study criminal justice.
One of her professors told her she'd make a great police officer since she had excellent communication skills, was compassionate, and loved working with people. That professor was also in charge of the Kent State Police Academy, and once enrolled, Shendy found her passion.
Shendy spoke with us about her career decision, and how she's weaved her personal experiences into her roles as a police officer and a recruiter. She also has gotten to do something most of us only dream about. She has thrown out the first pitch at a Cleveland Indians baseball game.
Q: How have your differences become an asset to your job in law enforcement?
Sarah Shendy: My differences have become an asset to law enforcement and allowed me to better serve my department and community in many ways. Having cultural knowledge, religious awareness, and speaking the Arabic language has allowed me to help others, mostly victims, navigate through the justice system and educating them on what to expect next in the process. I have been able to interpret and translated official documents, text messages, voicemails, social media posts, and inmate phone calls to better assist police departments in bringing justice to victims of crime. I have also been able to relate and establish relationships with families that have encountered traumatic and unfortunate circumstances through commonalities that we share. Stepping into a home and recognizing religious art or greeting them in a language they speak instantly shatters any fear present and helps establish trust.
Q: What advice do you have for those considering a career in law enforcement?
Sarah Shendy: I cannot say this enough; this is the best job on the planet. The best. We are a part of people’s healing and recovery. When they need help we respond. We provide everything from protection and service to advocacy. We are the men and women in uniform that keep your kids safe in schools and your families safe at home, on the road, and at work. When a person is facing their darkest day, we show up and do everything possible to make it a little better, try to fix it, or do whatever else we can to help them cope and move forward. We do everything from unlocking cars to running towards shots fired on a school campus, a religious institution, or a crowded concert. While everyone runs away from danger, we are the people that run towards it; fearless and committed; alone or with another brother or sister in blue. You cannot convince me that there is anything out there that compares to the honor and bravery that is embodied within the American Peace Officer. My advice to anyone that wants to live and lead a fulfilling life and leave behind a legacy of humanity and greatness, is do it. Be the change that you want to see. Become a police officer and make a difference.
Q: In your opinion, what’s the best way to empower people, especially minorities, in our current, tense times?
Sarah Shendy: I believe that the best way to empower anyone, especially those facing challenges and adversities, is by providing love, trust, mentorship, and leading by example. I believe that people are always looking for good leaders. Young and old. Leading by example and doing the right thing teaches others integrity while developing self-discipline and compassion. To me empowerment starts with meeting someone where they are, understanding their “why”, and removing obstacles from the roadway so that they can accomplish their goals. However big or small it may be. As a police officer, I feel that I have empowered others by helping them believe in and discover their potential and providing them with consistent mentorship. The most valuable currency that we have as human beings is the impact that we have on each other.
Q: What was it like to throw out the first pitch at an Indians game? Do you consider yourself a hometown hero?
Sarah Shendy: I had never thrown out a baseball before so I was a little nervous! I practiced the day before at Copley Middle School with the kids and the gym teacher. It was an absolute honor and a privilege to be nominated and recognized as a hometown hero. My favorite part of the whole experience was having my mom and sister with me. As we stood there and recited the National Anthem, the cameras showed my mom and sister; two Arab-American Muslim women dressed in red white and blue, front and center. That was so important to me because I want people to understand that Arab-American Muslim families in America are patriotic and love this country. Not only that, but those are two people in my life that have helped me become the person I am today. I would not be the person or officer that I am today without my family, close friends, and mentors. I was nominated for my position as an instructor and law enforcement trainer. I threw out the first pitch in uniform because I wanted to make it more about law enforcement as a whole and not just about me. I do not consider myself a hometown hero but I do consider myself a public servant, a victim advocate, and a healer.
Shendy is able to commute to her full-time job as a police officer in Copley, Ohio, and works from home for her state job as a recruiter. She makes frequent trips to Columbus and other parts of the state to engage various communities and encourage involvement in the process. The Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment in Ohio has two major goals: to educate the public on the policing profession and to assist law enforcement agencies with the most recent, innovative, and effective recruitment strategies.
To protect and to serve, it's more than just a motto to Sarah Shendy.
Another story you would enjoy: Why the NYC Police Department is Making Safety Preparations (mace.com)