Jun. 8—Oklahoma State University Police Officer Leslie Grotheer didn't plan on being in law enforcement, but now she has big plans for her career.
"I didn't have any interest in law enforcement when I was growing up. When I graduated college, I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed a job," Grotheer said. "My mom saw that Stillwater Police Department was hiring for dispatchers."
Grotheer said she applied to be a dispatcher "on a whim" and got the job, which she said she ended up loving.
While she was a dispatcher, she learned she loved the investigative nature of police work, and made the move to OSUPD hoping to be a detective.
"I spent seven years on patrol, then four years as a detective. I'm currently assigned to patrol," she said.
Grotheer moved back to patrol when the pandemic hit in an effort to help.
She said the staffing numbers were low due to illnesses and injuries at the time.
Working in the field allowed Grotheer to help others with their investigative skills since she held that position for several years.
She said she has also been able to sharpen her patrol skills and find a nice change of pace for her.
Grotheer said there are people that look at campus officers like they aren't legitimate police, even though they receive the same basic training as other officers in the state.
"We also have an in-house program and a field training program we must pass before we are able to work a shift on our own," she said. "On average, we are in training for a full year or more before we can work without a training officer by our side."
As a campus police officer, Grotheer has the ability to help and meet many different people.
"I genuinely enjoy working with the university community. On campus, we get to cross paths with people of all different countries, cultures and backgrounds," she said.
Grotheer said as an OSU officer, she is able to spend time engaging with faculty, students and staff in a "meaningful way."
She also said not every interaction is related to a crime, but when it is, she said they still try to see the individual as "a human being and treat them with respect."
Grotheer said being a dispatcher changed her life course because she didn't know what she wanted to do other than help people.
Her degree wasn't specially tailored toward a specific career, she said.
Grotheer has a long-term goal of becoming a captain over the emergency operations division of OSUPD.
"I still have a passion for dispatching and communications, which is encompassed in that division," she said. "I plan to spend the next few years learning as much as I can to help prepare me for that role, should it become available."