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Single Mom and Former Waitress Teaches Children About Police Work Through Role Play


Officer Polly Speed, School Resource Officer, Horn Lake Police Department, MS

Being a single mom, working as a cocktail waitress was one way to make ends meet. While it was hard work, it gave me the opportunity to learn about people. It also made me realize that I had other talents that I never explored. Being a waitress ultimately opened the door to a law enforcement career that I grew to love.

While I did not know how, I knew I wanted to make a difference. In 1984, I was hired by the Columbus Police Department as the first female officer, working patrol. After eight years in patrol, I became a school resource officer. I later moved to Horn Lake and continued my law enforcement career as a school resource officer. When I was assigned to an elementary school, I was puzzled and wondered, “What kind of law enforcement do young children need?”

After much thought, I considered my background in theater. I believed children would benefit by an interactive, hands-on experience. I turned a classroom into a police station and allowed the children to role-play. I taught students about being a police officer by allowing them to play the part. Divisions included booking, jail, investigations, tricycle traffic, and patrol. This police station became very popular with the students. At the end of each class as the “bad guy” was arrested, we would all sing “Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna’ do?”

My experience in the schools has been a successful one. Now, when students approach me, hug me, and talk to me about the fun times with “Officer Speedy,” I know I made a difference. I have more than 23 years in law enforcement, and I feel truly blessed to be serving as a police officer.

Learn more about Horn Lake Police Department at: http://hornlakepolice.com/

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