A Tempe police officer has won the title of Miss Arizona USA 2023.
Officer Candace Kanavel works as a crisis intervention officer and hostage negotiator for the Tempe Police Department's SWAT unit. As the new Miss Arizona, she will compete for the Miss USA 2023 title in Reno, Nevada, later this year.
“When you look at pageant queens wearing beautiful gowns and dressing up and then being a police officer and getting out there to get your hands dirty, on the surface level, they’re very different,” Kanavel told KTVK-TV. “But on the inside, being on the inside of both, they’re very similar.”
Kanavel likened her experience in the Miss Arizona USA pageant with her work as a SWAT hostage negotiator. Although those examples seem wildly different, she said the communication skills she needs for them can be similar.
"Talking to the judges is a little bit of a negotiation," she said. "You're trying to tell them about yourself and really have those personal connections with them, and that’s exactly what we try to do as hostage negotiators. We're trying to have that connection with the person we are trying to help."
Kanavel admits that being a police officer and a pageant winner is an unusual mix. But she hopes to use the spotlight to be a role model for teens and other women, instilling confidence in them to pursue what they love, no matter how out-of-the-ordinary it might be.
“Knowing that your dreams are not mutually exclusive; you shouldn’t limit yourself to one thing just because it doesn’t match up with the other,” Kanavel told KSAZ-TV. “I’m hoping that when people see me in this role and in my role as a police officer will help bridge that divide.”