By Katie Sobiech
Since starting her work in law enforcement, SylviaTrundle, Captain in the Patrol Subdivision of the Akron Police Department, has captured a pretty good view of the landscape of Akron. Not only has she seen it’s ugly side, but the beauty that its people can bring.
Most recently she has become aware of some major changes in her zone of responsibility which includes North Hill, Goodyear Heights and Ellet. She’s also witnessed how one local non-profit is working together with the police force to tackle these issues, creating a better place.
“I have a real passion for North Hill and it’s dramatically changed from when I came on. It’s a very diverse community. The International Institute of Akron being situated in North Hill has brought a lot of the immigrant population to our area and so it’s become a different form of policing and reaching out to people, trying to make sure their needs are met. It’s offered challenges,” Trundle said.
One of the main barriers she has found is trying to communicate with refugees.
“Thank goodness for the International Institute. They have been so helpful to us with providing translators,” she said.
“We (the Akron Police Department) work in a real great collaborative effort with a lot of our faith-based communities and non-profits in trying to determine what resources we need to get into our community so we can best serve them,” Trundle said.
A recent graduate of Leadership Akron, Trundle can’t speak highly enough of the year-long program that introduced her class to many fascinating aspects of the city.
“Leadership Akron is looking for people who have some kind of engagement in the community, who really want to expand on that,” she said.
Classes involve exposing individuals to different components of life in Summit County that they may not have been aware of before.
Representatives from non-profits such as Victims Assistance, the Battered Women’s Shelter, Open M, the Akron/Canton Regional Foodbank and other organizations come in to share what’s going on in the world of what they do.
“And you’re amazed,” Trundle said of the stories.
“It’s not (normally) a part of people’s everyday life. They’re not immersed in it like we are in law enforcement- we see it. You see their eyes open and go ‘Wow. How can I make a difference?'” Trundle explained.
Discovering Different Aspects of the City
“Leadership Akron is a great program and introduces the up and coming leaders to what this community is all about and how you can give back,” Trundle continued.
One of their recent endeavors was ‘Arts and Culture Day’.
Trundle is on the committee that takes the new classes around to the major institutions in Akron.
“We introduced them to local artists and they were like ‘Wow, we didn’t know this kind of vibe happened in downtown Akron’. So you can live here all your life and (not know),” she said.
“And we get them to the grassroots level of how the arts and culture impact the local economy and how critical that is to support the artists and shop locally,” she said.
“It was a great day and I think we opened a lot of eyes as to why arts and culture are important in this community.”
Living Life on Purpose
As for her career in law enforcement, Trundle says “I’ve absolutely loved it and I’d love to see more young women get into the profession. What we’re seeing though is that the physical agility that they have to undergo is sometimes wiping them out.”
Because females do not have as much upper body strength as males do, it can make it more difficult.
“My grandmother always said ‘Don’t change who you are.’ And I’m not a male. I can’t do the same things physically as a man, but I have other strengths and we all rely on each other to get the job done,” Trundle said.
As for facing her fears, she says it is fear that keeps you alive.
“I’ve been in situations where the hair on the back of my neck stands up and you need to listen to that because it’s telling you that there’s something going on that you need to be aware of and back out. You have to listen to it. Fear can be your friend,” she said.
Daily, her job brings new challenges but her faith and good attitude keep her strong and able to keep serving the community in a positive way.
“My almost 30 years in law enforcement has gone by so quickly. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Trundle said.