EMMAUS POLICE DEPARTMENT
Sometimes the right job finds you.
Emmaus Police Officer Melanie Sayres joined the department soon after completing the Reading Police Academy and knew she was in the right place.
“It feels right. I can’t describe it,” she said of her job with the Emmaus Police Department in an interview recently.
“I just see it as a challenging career. I can’t see myself doing anything else,” Sayres said.
So far, Officer Sayres is enjoying being “on the job” to borrow a pop culture description of work as a police officer.
“It’s good. I love it. I have zero complaints,” Sayres said.
Sayres is the first in her family to join the force. She earned a degree in criminal justice and entered the police academy in her hometown.
Her official duties in Emmaus have included everything from patrolling the borough to occasionally serving as a crossing guard at Lincoln Elementary School.
“I treat people with respect and they treat me with respect,” Sayres said.
The presence of women in law enforcement has been holding steady at about 13 percent nationwide with women in less than two percent of the top leadership positions over the last four years, Dawn Layman, a major with the Lenexa Police Department in Lenexa, Kan. and current president of the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, said.
In the 1970s, women were about two percent of sworn officers overall and most of the positions were clerical, according to the online source Community Oriented Policing Sources from the United States Department of Justice.
Layman agrees law enforcement is a challenging career. Layman, a native of New Jersey, was studying physical education at West Chester University when she met a female officer on the job. The daughter of a New Jersey state trooper, Layman had not considered law enforcement as a career until meeting that officer, she said in a phone interview.
“Sometimes you have to see to be,” Layman said.
Women officers have been gaining some ground, however, through organizations such as NAWLEE, Layman said.
Meanwhile, Officer Sayres will likely continue to enjoy the work she does.
Shifts are long and days can be unpredictable.
“We handle everything,” Sayres says of the types of calls encountered. “Everything gets taken care of.”
“It’s a tiring schedule but definitely worth it,” Sayres said.
Kevin Miller, originally of the Easton area, grew up around law enforcement.
His father was an officer in Wilson Borough for 39 years, Miller said.
“I’ve been surrounded by it,” Miller said in an interview recently.
When sworn in at a Emmaus Borough Council meeting last fall, Miller’s father made the trip to Emmaus.
“My dad’s really proud of me,” Miller said.
Miller, who earned a degree in criminal justice from East Stroudsburg University and is a graduate of the Allentown Police Academy, was enthusiastic about marine biology for a time, he said, but found his calling in law enforcement.
“I love the job,” he said. “I’m really happy with my choice.”
In a May 21 radio interview with three generations of law enforcement officers in Indianapolis, Ind., National Public Radio host Michel Martin, asked Rodney White, the youngest of her interviewees, about joining the same department where his grandfather and uncle served.
“It’s just the satisfaction of me going out there and being able to help from one situation to another,” White said.
Miller seems to agree.
Miller’s philosophy of policing incorporates patience and respect for those whom he meets, many times in less than ideal situations.
“Sometimes you have to let people vent,” Miller said.
And it helps to be in a welcoming department as a new officer.
“I can ask any one of the guys anything,” Miller said of his colleagues. “Everyone is really helpful.”
Every shift has its challenges and nuances, Miller explained. Night shift can be very quiet. Day shift can be busy with traffic accidents and other emergency calls. Any day can bring a new experience.
“You have to think right at that moment,” Miller said.