Television network cancels segment on Soldotna police

Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2001

A New York television network has canceled a visit with Soldotna police in the wake of terrorist attacks that leveled the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Oxygen Media Inc., which produces cable television programs aimed at women, had planned to spend Tuesday, today and Thursday with Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Warner and Officer Gisele Webster. The network had planned to film part of a 13-part documentary on women in law enforcement here, said associate producer Rachel Lippman from the company's Manhattan headquarters, situated about two miles north of the Trade Center wreckage.

"The point of the series is to portray women in law enforcement behind the scenes and give a complete picture of what it's like for women in law enforcement -- on the streets working and also at home, juggling all the things women have to juggle," Lippman said.

Amanda Pike, a free-lance reporter working for Oxygen, was in Anchorage Monday to document the life of a female U.S. marshal, Lippman said. Due to adjustments made following the tragedy, though, Oxygen deleted Soldotna from its list of Alaska stops. Next, Pike is to visit a female Fish and Wildlife Protection trooper based in Palmer, then a female village public safety officer in Chevak.

Warner said she had planned to take Pike on patrol and show her the city, the number of cases Soldotna police handle and what officers do.

She had planned to take Pike to routine meetings and for lunchtime visits to the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, Soldotna High School and the Soldotna Senior Citizens Center.

Warner said she often lunches with students and seniors to promote safety and give people the opportunity to see police in positive settings, not just in connection with crimes. She enjoys the visits.

"I like our students, and I like our seniors. It's nice to hang out with them," she said.

The people who commit crimes comprise only a small fraction of the community, she said, and spending time with other people helps her to keep things in perspective.

She said it has been a long time since anyone asked her what it is like to be a woman in police work.

"The last person who asked me that, I said, 'I don't know what it's like to be a man,'" she said. "It's a great career, a challenging career. It's really gratifying -- just the fact that you can have an impact on people's lives, help them out, find out who committed the crime and make it a safe community. I think we really have the ability to do that here in Soldotna."

Warner said the position of women in police work has come a long way since 1975, when female officers had to battle not only crime on the streets but also resistance from within their departments to having female officers.

"I don't see that anymore," she said. "We've had to prove ourselves, but men have had to prove themselves, too."

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