A Woman of Faith on the Frontlines
(Part One of Two) – 2012-01-15

By Katie Sobiech

Shows such as Cops, or Police Women of Dallas, reveal our fascination with the whole world of law enforcement…especially police women, since they are so rare.

Have you ever wondered what it would it be like to be behind the wheel of a cop car for a day? What kinds of things they see and experience?

Captain Sylvia Trundle, Captain in the Patrol Subdivision of the Akron Police Department, allows us to take a glimpse into her life as a local police officer.

Trundle has a big heart for the community and empowering women to rise above domestic violence and abuse. She is a woman of faith with a passion for goodness in the community.

Though a strong woman, she hasn’t been hardened by the police force, which she attributes to her faith.

“My passion is getting out there on the street and my zone of responsibility,” she said.

And this interest began as a child.

“Back in the day my mom and dad would oftentimes have Copley police officers over for dinner with the family. It was just fascinating because they came in with all of their great stories,” Trundle said, reminiscing on her childhood.

A Heart of Compassion

As for being a woman in the police force, she says, “You really start seeing some things the community needs. People that are just in difficult situations.”

Continuing “I always thought ‘How can I best serve these people beyond my job?’ I was very blessed to have the opportunity to get involved in different organizations.”

Slowly, her involvement with non-profits has turned into different board roles. She is currently Board President for Victim Assistance Program, a non-profit which offers 24/7 assistance to those who are victims of violence and crime in our community.

Trundle also serves as Chair of the Summit County Domestic Violence Coalition and is on Board of the Women’s Endowment Fund, Greenleaf Family Services, and the AAA Auto Club of Akron.

Paving the Way

Trundle initially started her work in law enforcement as a dispatcher with Copley Fire and Police Department.

“The bug bit and it was fascinating. You’re just kind of immersed in the action,” she said.

Later she went to work with the Fairlawn Police Department where she served a couple of years as their first, full-time female officer.

Joining the Akron Police Department has been a completely different experience, she says.

“We’re going to more and more domestic calls where people are willing to arrest the perpetrator or share their stories. This is a big problem in our community,” she said of the violence.

And it crosses all socio-economic, gender and culture lines.

Seeing the problems, she asked herself how she could be a part of the solution, which led her to working with the Battered Women’s Shelter, Victim Assistance and other organizations.

Emotional Toll of Policing

The work of a police officer is not for the faint of heart.

“There’s a lot of emotional effects that are going on and aftermath (you have to deal with) as an officer,” Trundle said.

She and other officers in the community and surrounding areas are thankful for the Safety Forces Chaplaincy Center, previously known as Furnace Street Mission, which is tied in with the Victim Assistance Program.

“It’s a comprehensive initiative that involves our fire, police and all safety forces and their families. It’s very nice to be able to go,” Trundle said of the counseling center for the police force.

It’s also where they conduct their debriefings after major incidents.

“It’s a place to dump all of the bad stuff that you’re seeing and feeling,” she explained.

Victim’s Assistance and Chaplaincy Center has been so helpful to the community in so many unspoken ways.

“I call and the (Victim’s Assistance) advocates respond right away to the scene. They take the burden off of myself and my officers so that we can conduct our business and be professional. They follow the victim, whatever needs that need to be met from start to finish,” Trundle said

“I just saw the true value of this organization and unfortunately it’s not as well known in the community as it should be. So that’s been our mission, to get the word out about what this organization does for so many people in Summit County,” she continued.

Spirituality and Policing

Trundle is known to be a woman of faith. She depends on her faith in God to give her the strength to not only get through the day, but with a smile.

“My spirituality is a place where I’m able to take the ugliness that I see on a daily basis and turn it into something I can deal with so that I can come in the next day and be the best I can for the men and women that are relying on me for my leadership, or the people in the community,” she said.

“I don’t want to come in cynical and negative, because it’s very easy in this line of work to just be exposed to everything bad. That’s another important reason for me to get involved in what’s good about our community and seeing the work that so many people do to make it a better place to live,” she said.

She has found prayer to be an important part of her everyday life.

“I pray for the men and women in blue every day for our community because we definitely need a lot of prayer, right now especially,” she said.

 

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