However, the students need only look to Deb Annibali, the lead instructor, as a symbol of success and role model. She spent 20 years in law enforcement, spending time in Colorado with the Littleton PD, the Arapahoe County Sheriff (as a lieutenant commanding the drug task force consisting of 13 agencies), and finally as a commander with the Vail PD. That's a wealth of experience as a street cop and boss. Annibali is a modest person, mentioning only in passing that she was the first female member of her department SWAT team. That's not really something to gloss over, but Deb was reluctant to elaborate.
The Women in Public Safety course is ever evolving, changing with the times. It incorporates up to date training that assists women so they have the optimal chance of being accepted and getting through public safety academies. Drills such as scaling a wall and dragging a 165 pound dummy are things required in the testing standards. Without having been exposed to such physical challenges beforehand, some women might not make the cut.
There's an intangible force at work for Annibali as she leads her charges. As much as she is tempted to be a friend and comfort them, she knows she must maintain her role as an instructor. "To remain in character is tough; sometimes I want to mother them." She said there are times women have difficulty in distinguishing between their perception of femininity and a tough symbol of authority. Can the two exist together? Deb thinks so. "What really inspires me is to hear from women who tell me they are doing things they never thought they could do, and they have confidence they can do the job. This course provides them with the tools to enhance their ability and imbues in them the confidence to pursue a career in public safety."
Women in Public Safety Careers - Academy Preparation is a model other departments can draw upon. Many small cities and towns (populations of 1 million or less) have high percentages of women officers. It would behoove those jurisdictions to best prepare women contemplating public safety by initiating a course like the one Deb Annibali has in place. If you have any questions, contact Deb through the Allan Hancock College website.
Stay safe, brothers and sisters!