Friday, August 10, 2007

Happy birthday, Laurie

My wife and I saw our high school classmate, Laurie, while we were at dinner last week. She wished me a happy birthday. She knew it was coming up, because she and I were born on the same day. Although we were classmates, our social circles were a little different: she was a cheerleader, I was a debater. Our paths crossed frequently in classes and student council, though. I admired Laurie then and now for the genuine and friendly manner with which she treated everyone--without an ounce of high school cliquishness.

Laurie had just finished a round of golf when she saw us in the grill at Wilderness Ridge and stopped to chat. I've played with her before, and she is an excellent golfer. If you check out the Rocket Yearbook, you will see that she also excelled in athletics as a member of the Penguins (synchronized swimming), and the Girls Athletic Association.

There you have the extent of high school girl's athletics in 1971: synchronized swimming and intramural field hockey. You'll find no women in the Northeast High School Athletic Hall of Fame until the late 1970's, but it's not due to the lack of athletic women. I have no doubt that Laurie could have been a scholarship athlete in softball, volleyball, basketball, track and field, or all of the above, had women's sports we now take for granted existed.

It is remarkable to think about how things have changed. This is also true at the police department, where women occupy many of our key supervisory and managerial positions--something unheard of a generation ago. These include some traditional male bastions: some of our most experienced and capable detectives include Sgt. Sandy Myers, Sgt. Erin Sims, and Sgt. Jeri Roeder. Three of our top commanders today, Capt. Joy Citta, Capt. Kim Koluch, and Capt. Genelle Moore rose through the ranks in a department and a profession that largely excluded women until the mid 1970's. These women have all been trailblazers for those who follow the path they helped cut.

Here's how we compared on women in supervisory and managerial positions to the other cities in my research group, the Benchmark City Chiefs (click to enlarge):

Think about this: until Doris King took over the Property and Evidence Unit from a police lieutenant, or Linda Steinman became a sergeant (I'm not sure which happened first, but I think that its been about 25 years), every single one of these jobs was held by a man.
Back to Laurie's birthday. She looks a lot younger than me, I admit, as we turn the page on Saturday. She's always had the easy-going good looks of an athlete. She was not, however, the prettiest girl at Lincoln Northeast High School. That was Tonja Wagner, with whom I'll be celebrating 34 years of marriage on Sunday. Happy birthday, indeed!


Anonymous said...

happy birthday!
happy anniversary!
wishing you many more of both!

and now i know that you married for looks! ;)

Anonymous said...

Best Wishes for an Excellent Birthday

-js- said...


Curious, what happened in Fremont, California between '05 and '06.


Tom Casady said...


Not sure. Retirements would be the logical suspect, but that's a pretty big drop for a single year. I think most U.S. police departments are undergoing the same baby-boom-post-WWII-echo that we're experiencing. I'll email Craig Steckler and find out.