MEDICINE HAT, AB — Up until 1985, the Medicine Hat Police Service was made up of men.
Darla Christianson was one of the first females to join the ranks.
She had two years as an RCMP officer under her belt before deciding to join the city service.
“When I went through, there were 850 applicants for five jobs and they had a really tough fitness test,” she said from her Medicine Hat home. “But I was the only woman that passed that.”
Despite being the second female to join the service, Christianson said her career had a lot of firsts.
“I was the first woman police officer around Medicine Hat that worked undercover so that was really exciting and it was almost like, I would tell my friends, it was like Halloween every day,” she said. “You got to dress up in something and go to work.”
She was also the first female to have be promoted to sergeant, back in December 1998.
Christianson loved putting on her uniform and being able to help people every day.
But back in the 80’s, it was so easy for everyone to open up to the idea of a woman policing city streets.
“I had one colleague say to me that on, probably the first or second day I was working, that he didn't believe women should be in police work, didn't think it was a job for women,” she said.
But that wasn’t the case for everyone.
“Our guys were very, for the most part, I think, were very accepting of having females come into our service,” said retired inspector Glen Motz, who worked closely with Christianson. “It was just the reality of our time.”
Motz began his policing career in 1980, a few years before any women were hired on as officers with the Medicine Hat Police Service.
He worked closely with Christianson and said she was a great fit for the service.
While Christianson believes women can be less threatening and have a more nurturing presence than a man, that’s not what made her 18 years on the job so successful.
She said she went to work everyday with a smile on her face and with a passion to help.
It’s the same advice she’d give anyone, man or woman, looking at policing as a career.
“It's also, probably, the most rewarding job on the planet,” she said. “A lot of times I still think ‘oh, I wish I was there’ or ‘I wish I was working that case, that would be awesome’,” she said, laughing.
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