Elevating Her Story

 

This month we will be elevating her story by sharing the contributions of RPD Women, their life, achievements and moments of empowerment along their journey.

Meet Sgt. Doran Broadnax

 

Q. Who or what has been the loudest influence in your life? And/or led you to a career at RPD?
A. My parents have always been my biggest supporters. Everything my brother and I were engaged in, they were right there; whether it be coaching, volunteering, or mentoring us or others. Prior to myself, no one in my family was in law enforcement so I came into this field with a very open mind. I’m not going to lie, the training academy was pretty rough and if it wasn’t for them reassuring me that I could accomplish anything I put my mind too, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here as a 12-year veteran.

Q. What traits did you see in them that led you here? Tell me about the path that led you here.
A. I would always remember my dad telling me that I reminded him of his mother; that I had “a heart of gold”. My mother telling me that I needed to work on my patience, so embodying my strengths and weaknesses is what helped me be the person and officer that I am today. Earning my degree in Criminal Justice is what led me here. I had interest in investigating crime scenes, and I wanted to get my “foot in the door”. I grew up in Richmond, my alma mater being Huguenot High School, and I continued my education at VCU. So Richmond wasn’t a new place for me, I was excited about working here. I am a true product of my environment.

Q. What roles do you play in life outside of work?
A. I am a wife to a retired police sergeant, a mother to my two year son that certainly keeps me busy, a daughter, a sister, aunt, and godmother. I have mentored with Mirror Me which is a juvenile outreach program through RPD, and I volunteer on my church’s Healthcare Ministry and currently hold the secretary position. I am a health coach, I make it my job to help others reach their health goals long-term.

Q. What opportunities to develop yourself do you look for today?
A. I’ve also been an advocate for training, not only for myself but for others I’ve worked with or supervised. Working on your training, experiences, and helping to build your resume so when a position becomes available you will already be prepared. The last training class I took that I was really excited about, and actually Captain Mooney introduced it to me, was FBI-Leeda school for leadership. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people and I want to continue my trilogy and complete the other two courses.

Q. Do you have a female mentor? Or have you been a mentor to someone else?
A. I’m confident to say that I’ve built great working relationships with my peers in the Richmond Police Department and I can go to several different people either male or female and get advice about different things. No, I do not have one stand-alone mentor, but I have a great circle of people that I consider mentors that I’m comfortable engaging with to assist me throughout my career. I have been a mentee to the basic recruit class (the last two classes). It’s always exciting to see how people grow throughout their time in the academy and seeing what they accomplish once they hit the streets. Building those lasting relationships are important, no matter what happens you have someone you can reach out to that has been where you are and can relate to what you are going through.

Q. What keeps you at the top of your game?
A. Remaining humble, personable, and positive. No matter where I end up, not forgetting where I came from is important to me. I want people to feel as though they can come to me with ideas, concerns, recommendations, etc. Positivity is contagious, it’s so easy to gripe and complain.

Q. What is an accomplishment that you’ve surprised yourself with?
A. Being able to lose over 60 pounds and keeping it off.

Q. What are some barriers you’ve had to overcome?
A. Not all situations can be resolved, sometimes you have to know when to regroup and walk away. Everyone hasn’t mastered “being the bigger person”, but I have learned sometimes that’s the route you have to take.

Q. When it comes to breaking the “glass ceiling”, what would you say to young women and young girls in our community who may be aspiring to be where you are?
A. It’s not about where you come from it’s about where you are going. Sometimes there’s a stigma attached to your address, or your school, or even your appearance; don’t prove them right. Like I stated earlier, I lived in the city, I’ve graduated from an inner city school, I graduated college, and I stayed and now work in my community. Like my parents used to tell me, you can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t make excuses, instead set goals! Your vision is yours!

Q. When it comes to how you relate to the community and neighbors, what allows you to connect and build those relationships?
A. You have to show up. The first time the community interacts with the police shouldn’t be when a call is generated. When I worked in Sector 411 (where I started in patrol) my partners and I were out in the community, walking, checking on merchants, people knew us by name. One time my partner (Officer Kim Drake) and myself went and purchased popsicles and distributed them in Gilpin Court, on a very hot summer day. The residents loved it. As a supervisor, one time during the holiday season, my platoon and I had outdoor rollcall at Swansboro Elementary School where we had stockings filled with candy and we distributed to the kiddos as they were getting on their buses. One of my mantras is: It’s the little things in life, which sometimes makes the biggest impacts.

Q. Woman have high levels of interpersonal communication skills, which translates into more effective practices in the field….what are some of yours?
A. Compassion. I remember several times that I’ve assisted people with getting a taxi rides, bus fares, lunch, hotel rooms, just going the extra mile for those in need. I love when I see and hear about officers helping out their communities, helping to bridge that gap, being a part of that is what it’s all about. So female officers can be a part of creating safe, livable communities, especially for kids and young families. And when women think about it that way, they can have a really different perspective about all that law enforcement can do to making neighborhoods and communities safe and livable.

Q. As a woman, what makes you uniquely qualified to do this?
A. I took a training course called CPTED (Crime Prevention Thru Environmental Design) and the course taught you how to identify your weak points when it came to security, and what measures you can take to improve it. Adding the experience as a patrol officer and knowing what things lead to victimization for females, would be a starting point.

Meet Lt. Adrienne E Gardner

 

Lieutenant Adrienne E Gardner

Q: Tell me about the path that led you here.
A. The path that led me to a career in policing was one where I was empowered from a very early age to believe that I could achieve whatever I set my sights on. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with a twin brother and we were always treated equally by our family, but I never felt limited to a specific gender role with what I chose to pursue in life. Neither of my grandmothers had a traditional career outside the home, but they are/were amazing and brilliant women who supported their families in their own way. My mom and numerous aunts worked in a variety of fields, so I never saw any specific job as ‘woman’s work.’ I was drawn to policing from a young age because I have strong feelings about justice, and standing up for right over wrong.

Q: What roles do you play in life outside of work?
A. Outside of work I play a lot of roles! I’m a wife, a mom of 2 awesome daughters, I am an athlete, an outdoor enthusiast, a scholar, a regular blood donor, and a baker, just to name a few.

Q: What opportunities to develop yourself do you look for today?
A. Now that I’m a Lieutenant, I look for opportunities to develop myself as a leader in our agency and our profession generally, all of which will serve to better me as a whole personally. I see rank as a responsibility to serve those beneath me, and to develop the next generation of police officers. I enjoy reading, listening to podcasts, and take plenty of training courses in pursuit of this endeavor.

Q: What keeps you at the top of your game?
A. Self-discipline keeps me at the top of my game! I’ve never faced a harder challenge in life than being a working mom, especially in the early years when I was breast-feeding at home and pumping while I was on the job. That really set me on my path to discipline and organization in life. Motherhood also teaches a lot about humility – I might be the boss at work, but you cannot have an ego with your kids! I joke with friends that the easiest part of my day is typically when I’m at work – once I go home the tough job actually begins.

Q: What are some barriers you’ve had to overcome?
A. When I started in policing over 17 years ago, there weren’t as many women at the department as there are now. I know people who thought I was chosen for some assignments simply because I was a female officer, which motivated me to work harder to demonstrate that I was selected because I was the best candidate. Whether it be exhibited when I talk to people, shoot my pistol, search a building, conduct an investigation, or lead my platoon – I strive to perform to the best of my ability to support my team, and as a byproduct, remove the thought from people’s minds that I am somehow ‘less than’ because I am a female officer. I hope that in this way I can be a role model for other women in policing, especially at RPD.

Meet Detective Sonia Austin-Moore

Q: Who has been the loudest influence in your life? And/or led you to a career at RPD?
A: My Mom, Ms. Marcia (Oakley) Austin. When we moved to Virginia, my mom joined the Richmond Police Department in 1981. She was sworn in by Chief Dulling.

Q: What traits did you see in her that you admired?
A: Leaving Panama with three kids as a newly single parent and a stay at home mom. My mom ventured out to California near a longtime friend and started a career. My mom who didn’t drive, still found way to provide for my sister Sheryl, and Brother Scott without any complaints. My mom made the decision to move to the East Coast to be closer to family, but not choosing Queens, NY, but Virginia. I admire my mom because she found support in her friends, made decisions to better our family, and was a hard worker. Unfortunately at 5’1, 98lbs, my mom was told after a few months by the Academy Sgt her hands were too small to hold a weapon. She was then transferred to 911 Dispatch, where she worked a few years. My mom realized raising three children, working overnights, she needed to find a new career. My mom Retired from Dept. of Social Services.

Q: What roles do you play in life outside of work?
A: Rolls I play outside of work, I’m a mother of three adults, MacKenzie 18, Donovan 22, and Symmion 27 and a Grandmother to a Beautiful 5 month baby girl Ayowin. I was a mentor for the new Recruits with the Department for 10yrs +, I played Women’s Professional Football for 4 Season, and this Season I have the Amazing Opportunity to work as one of the Coaches. I am an Instructor at the Largest HBCU “Go Aggies”, and Before Covid, I volunteered my time at Habitat for Humanity.

Q: What opportunities to develop yourself do you look for today?
A: I no longer stand back saying “I Can’t” or “I wish I could”. Last four years I have set Goals for myself for each year. Goals that I can reach, and one that would make me work extremely hard to obtain. I strive to do better daily, I strive to always do better for my kids. I want my children to see, as a single mother anything is possible.

Q: What keeps you at the top of your game?
A: My strength and not giving up. Knowing that I felt like I hit rock bottom four years ago when I had a mini stroke. I already had Uterine Cancer few years prior and now I’m going from two days in the gym, to 18% strength on my left side, learning how to walk, smile normal, think etc. So I stay on top of my game, it’s a must for myself and my kids to see.

Q: What is an accomplishment that you’ve surprised yourself with?
A: Going to Grad School a few weeks after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree, and receiving my Masters from Arizona State University in Criminal Justice, with Forensic Studies. It was grueling, that’s the only way I can describe it.

Q: What are some barriers you’ve had to overcome?
A:The first barrier I had to deal with was discrimination from male recruits telling myself and other females in our Academy class that this job is not for females and we need to be at home in the kitchen. Second was years later when applying for a position, a Sgt. Told me “I would never amount to anything,”. My perspective on so many things changed for me after both incidents.

Q: When it comes to breaking the “glass ceiling”, what would you say to young women and young girls in our community who may be aspiring to be where you are?
A: You are unlike any other, always be yourself, set goals, and work hard. You have the power to change the world.

Q: Many officers possess a number of traits that make them trusted partners to their communities, ultimately fostering trust between police and the community, when it comes to how you relate to the community and neighbors, what allows you to connect and build those relationships?
A: When I was in Patrol, I would stop and talk to the citizens and business owners who were in my sector. They knew my face and my name. The citizens trusted me and weren’t afraid to speak about what was happening in the community. #312

Q: Women have high levels of interpersonal communication skills, which translates into more effective practices in the field…what are some of yours?
A: I know how to listen, many citizens, victims, even suspects just want to be heard. It takes a few minutes to hear what they want to say. When I had interactions with the kids, I spoke to them as if speaking to my children. Respect goes a long way. My interaction started with discussing the newest Jordan releases, to who won the NBA game. Eventually we are talking about the matter at hand.

RPD Officer Calderon

“Don't be afraid of being afraid,” This is the advice Officer Calderon would offer to young women today. Read more about who empowered her along her journey of turning her flaws into flowers.

Officer Calderon has been a woman of RPD serving our community as patrol officer in fourth precinct for three years. She credits her mom for empowering her through her life and teaching her the importance of resilience. Pictured is her and her mother. Officer Calderon says growing up she thought her mother was the strongest woman alive.

Q: How long have you been with RPD?
A: I have been with RPD since May 2018

Q: Do you have any women who you admire, or look up to?
A: I admire my mother, growing up I thought she was the strongest woman alive, dealing with so much on her plate and she still managed to take care of me and my siblings without us never having to want for anything. Once I got older, she taught me how to be independent at a young age and if I wanted to do anything I should never be afraid too. She taught me to be confident even when I second guess myself and wouldn't think I was capable of doing certain things. My mother would always say how do I know if I can do it if I didn't try it yet, with her being my back bone I began to become a hardworking, courageous and self-sufficient strong woman. My mother helped me turn my flaws into flowers and I thank her for molding me into the woman I am today.

Q: Please provide a quote that you would like to share?
A: My Quote is " Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there is more growing to be done"

Q: Do you have any advice for the young women, or young girls growing up during this time?
A: My advice for young women is don't be afraid of being afraid, it is okay to come out your comfort zone, if it’s something you want to do go for it.