Jason Stump and Christina Mee sit in the Hanover Police Department. They both sit up straight as boards, keeping direct eye contact as they speak. It's obvious they aren't in their twenties, but they speak with confidence about their new-found careers as police officers.
Stump, 37, and Mee, 42, have been with the department for one year. They haven't felt rejected by the other, mostly younger officers, but it was a worry both officers had at the time of their hire.
"We're the new guys. We're older," Stump said to himself when he starting working. But that didn't seem to make a difference. Instead, both were welcomed with open arms, Stump said.
For Mee, her age has been a benefit, she said. She said many see her as a mother figure, and it seems to work most of the time, even when out on a call. But don't let the motherly personality fool you.
"Don't mistake my kindness for weakness," she said, saying she could use force when needed.
Overall, she said she feels grateful for the opportunity.
"It sounds so clichc, but I truly do feel blessed," she said. "I've never had a day when I don't want to go to work."
Stump agreed and said joining the department was the "best decision."
According to Lt. Smith, the deparment also has benefited from their recent hires. Although Stump and Mee are older, their mature personalities are beneficial for the younger officers, Smith said.
Stump and Mee both had life experience outside of being a police officer. Although both had an interest in law enforcement early in their lives, they each took different roads before becoming officers.
Stump's interest in law enforcement started in middle school but took a turn in high school when he veered toward business. He spent a few years in his family's business, a tool and die shop around the York area.
Then, he went on a ride-along with his brother, Springettsbury Township Police Lt. Daniel Stump, and he was hooked.
Similarly, Mee took the business route as a career. She owned Fox's Pizza in New Freedom and Hanover for several years. It was hardly her dream job, though. She dreaded going to work, hitting the snooze button every morning.
The business was taking its toll on her. Owning a business is more than a full-time job, Mee said. There were few days off and many long hours involved with running the pizza shops for the past three years.
She knew it was time for a career change, she said. She sold the pizza shops in January 2010. Now, as a police officer, she never dreads going to work. Although police work is far from the normal 9-to-5 job, she finds she has more free time to spend with her daughter, Ashley, now 21, than when she owned Fox's.
Mee's life is strikingly different from her life as a business owner, she said, but there are similar aspects. She likes interacting with her community. In a way, the communication aspect is much like her previous job but in a different role.
"I'm dealing with the same people on a different level," Mee said.
The lifestyle of a police officer has been more of an adjustment for Stump. His wife and two kids, Ethan, 11, and Noel, 9, work around the schedule, celebrating birthdays or holidays a day early or late. It's an adjustment, but his family is willing to work it out.
For him, it's his homelife that keeps him going. His kids are astounded that their dad is a police officer.
"It's a great feeling to know your kids are proud," he said.
He commutes to Hanover from York, but the drive separates his work life from his home life. It puts him in the two different moods required for each, he said.
Although it's only been a year, Mee and Stump don't plan on changing careers any time soon, they said.
"They're going to have to get rid of me," Mee said.
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