As the Austin PD works to recruit more female officers in a very male-dominated field, jacqulyn powell looks at how a couple of the department’s female role-models are leading the way.
Lieutenant Katrina Pruitt and Officer Katrina Ratcliff have the same name and the same love for police work at very different stages of their careers.
Officer Ratcliff has been with the Austin Police Department for two years.
Ratcliff says, “My interests are definitely in shooting and driving. That’s like two of my favorite skills.”
She’s already training, to become a trainer, and help women hone these skills.
She’ll need four years of patrol experience before she can specialize at the training academy.
So, in the meantime, she’s keeping herself occupied.
“Being on American Ninja Warrior, it’s gained me a lot of visibility,” says Ratcliff.
That’s right; she’s applied and been chosen for the popular show, not once, but twice, and both times with a special goal motivating her.
“Rather than hiding that we’re a police officer for our safety, to be vocal about it, to show people that I am just a normal human and I do have a heart behind the badge,” says Ratcliff.
A heart for helping people that Lieutenant Pruitt says she’s always had, too.
Over the years, she’s covered just about every area of expertise you can imagine, and, with all that experience, she became the first ever female to oversee APD’s SWAT team.
“They’re 90 to nothing all the time, and trying to keep up is interesting sometimes,” says Pruitt.
She could have retired five years ago, but she wants to make one change before that happens.
Pruitt says, “We’ve never had a female that was an actual SWAT operator.”
The things that officers say set women apart also make them valuable on special teams.
Ratcliff says, “Not only can we deescalate things, we can figure out different ways to problem solve, we have a different nature to handle things.”