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Program to honor female Detroit officers, firefighters

April 3, 2019

DETROIT (AP) — Tracey Miller acknowledges that when it comes to police work, many people still consider it a “man’s world.”

But the 24-year Detroit Police Department veteran says women have a place in law enforcement, work just as hard as men and show results.

“It’s not necessarily brute strength that can help people,” said Miller, one of 15 Detroit officers and five fire department personnel due to be honored Thursday at the Detroit Public Safety Foundation’s 6th annual Women in Blue breakfast at the MGM Grand.

One officer and one firefighter will be announced as “women of the year” for their respective departments.

“I believe I was made for this job,” said the 49-year-old Miller, whose father was also a Detroit police officer. She said she believes police work is “why I was put on the earth.”

Assigned to the city’s 9th Police Precinct, Miller also is a member of the gang suppression unit, Operation Ceasefire. About three years ago, she decided to pursue a spot on the police department’s bomb squad. Miller became a certified bomb technician last year.

“There are lots of people who can be police officers. Not everyone can be a bomb technician,” Miller said. “You have to be careful with details and those kinds of things. It could affect many, many people if I do something wrong.”

Other women nominated for the “women of the year” honors include firefighters, dispatchers and members of the police department’s underwater recovery team, domestic unit and crisis intervention team. A number of them have advanced academic degrees.

Fire Department Sgt. Beth Szmrecsanyi (SHER-shuh-NEE), 42, said one of the toughest things she’s had to deal with is the double-standard that comes with her gender.

“People assume that because I’m a woman, I can’t do the job,” said Szmrecsanyi, who has been with the fire department for 23 years. “It is a predominantly male job and they have a hard time with women being able to do the job.”

Thursday’s awards ceremony will be a fundraiser for the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, which provides training, technology, equipment and community outreach for the city’s public safety operations.