July 16--For Tammy DeMier, determination has brought her success as both a detective with the Fort Smith Police Department and as a record-setting power lifter.
A Texas native, DeMier fulfilled her goal -- to become a homicide detective -- in Fort Smith.
"Tammy comes to work every day ready to give it all she's got," said Capt. Jarrard Copeland, a leader of the Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division. "It may be a multiple homicide or misdemeanor battery. Whatever the case is, she's going to work it to the best of her ability."
DeMier said growing up with four sisters gave her a strong sense of competitiveness.
"I guess that's why I get along with men so well," she said. "That's why I do so good working in the environment I work in."
As a teen, one of DeMier's sisters married and moved to the Fort Smith area. DeMier said she moved with her sister and attended high school, graduating in 1995, and Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla.
"When I started college, I wasn't sure about what I wanted to do," DeMier said. "My husband at the time's family was in law enforcement."
DeMier said she signed up for introductory criminal justice courses.
"I decided this was interesting and started taking advanced courses and decided this is what I want to do," she said.
Police work fit her sensibilities.
"One of the deciding factors (in pursuing a career in law enforcement) was that I don't like monotony -- I get bored real quick with the same ole thing," she said. "Law enforcement is ever-changing and keeps your interest."
In 2002, DeMier joined FSPD.
"The number of (female officers) has always been about six, seven or eight," she said. "I never felt as if I was treated any different or that special accommodations were made for me. I had to keep up with the same standards."
Like all rookie officers, DeMier started in patrol.
"I loved patrol because you get to see things on the front end," she said. "You get the initial reporting (of the crime) and see how people react when things occur."
Patrol is the foundation of police work and vital to learning the ropes, she noted.
"Patrol gets out of there when a lot of things happen when things are still hot and the wounds are still fresh," she said.
When working patrol, DeMier said, officers sometimes see people in pain or at their worst. She said it's important that officers do not become completely desensitized.
"You still have to be sympathetic and realize they're still human," DeMier said. "You have to see people in good times and in bad and take it all in perspective and learn how to balance it out and how to cope with it."
DeMier served as a patrol officer for four years. In 2005, she began training as a member of the Police Department's SWAT Team.
"I'm the one and only female who has ever been on the Fort Smith SWAT Team," DeMier said.
Maj. Dean Pitts, who at the time was both the assistant commander of the SWAT Team and patrol troop captain, said he recruited DeMier into the SWAT Team.
"There's one set of physical qualification standards, and she was able to successfully meet all the criteria and pass our standards," Pitts said. "She's a remarkable woman as far as physical fitness goes and always has been."
A SWAT Team officer, Pitts said, has the grueling task of responding to extreme crime situations while carrying heavy amounts of armor and weaponry.
"We wear significantly heavier body armor and weaponry than patrol officers," Pitts said.
SWAT officers must move swiftly and often great lengths on foot, while fully armored and armed, to reach the scene of a crime. DeMier more than held her own, Pitts said.
"She wasn't given easier tasks to do," Pitts said. "She was given the same tasks as any other team member and fulfilled those tasks extremely well. The only reason she left the team was because she had a knee injury."
DeMier, who was a member of the SWAT Team for three years, said she is proud of her service with the SWAT Team.
"I miss it," she said.
In 2006, DeMier became a member of the Criminal Investigation Division, starting as a property crimes detective, investigating burglaries, thefts and break-ins.
She then served for about a year as a juvenile crime detective.
"It's difficult because you have to have a different approach -- you're dealing with juveniles as suspects and victims," she said. "Sometimes it's hard for them to realize you're there to help them."
She then realized her ambition of becoming a crimes against persons detective, investigating homicides, robberies, rape, sexual assault and terroristic threatening.
"I enjoy it. It's like a puzzle, and you're trying to put all the pieces together," she said. "It's rewarding to be able to call families of victims and tell them we've made an arrest and got the case solved."
DeMier brings a compassionate approach to investigating crime, Copeland said.
"She realizes how important it is to the victims and handles it with (both) a lot of compassion to the victim and knowledge of criminal investigation," Copeland said.
DeMier does not settle for mediocrity, Copeland said, and strives to do her best in both police work and her athletic endeavors beyond the job.
DeMier said she started training with weights in college and progressed into power-lifting competitions.
"My biggest record right now: A dead lift of 275 pounds and a bench record of 185 pounds," she said.
Lifting weights and staying fit, she said, are great stress relievers.
"I've changed my eating habits a lot and work out on a regular basis and feel a hundred times better than I did (before)," she said.
DeMier recently transitioned from power-lifting to bodybuilding. DeMier said she hopes to compete in the Arkansas State Bodybuilding Championship on Aug. 4.
"I'm about three and a half weeks out, and I think I'm on my way," she said. "Right now, it's crunch time."
Copyright 2012 - Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.