Youth No Limit to Alum’s Success
Dedication, hard work and family are the three words that Police Officer Kaitlyn Williams (’12) uses to describe being a member of the Lenexa Police Department.
“I love working for the police department because it’s kind of like a team,” said Williams. “The people that I get to work for and with have become like family to me.”
She’s the third youngest patrol officer on the force, but she entered the job with confidence due to her comprehensive training at the Johnson County Regional Police Academy. The 17-week academy covers all aspects of police work.
“The Academy taught me all the different areas of being a police officer,” said Williams. “We started with the basics and then moved through all the areas of law enforcement.”
She also earned top honors with the Denis Plumly Overall Achievement Award when she graduated from the academy in 2013. Named for 39-year veteran Overland Park policeman Denis Plumly, formerly an instructor at the academy, the award is based on criteria such as defensive tactics, emergency vehicle obstacle training, physical training and other scenario-based training.
“You are graded on everything [classes and tests] you do in the academy,” Williams explained. “They award the student with the highest average and I was so excited when I found out that it was me! I worked really hard and it was awesome to see my hard work pay off.”
Williams graduated with a BA in criminal justice and attributes her current success to her experience at MNU.
“Todd Hiestand [criminal justice professor] was my main professor at MNU,” Williams recalled. “He really pushed me to my limits and encouraged me to excel, not only as a student, but also as an officer.”
She also credits Dr. Mike Gough, a professor in the School of Business.
“I never took a class with Professor Gough, but he advised me throughout college; teaching me how to manage relationships and money,” Williams said. “He helped me improve my people skills.”
Williams also played soccer at MNU and said that experience helped teach her team work and dedication.
“Playing soccer helped me to communicate better with people and work with others on the team, which are vital aspects to being a police officer,” said Williams.
After graduation, Williams said that she started the job search process and quickly landed her job at the Lenexa Police Department.
“I applied at Lenexa PD and was blessed to be hired within two weeks,” she explained.
“We start the day with roll call at 6:45 a.m.,” she said. “The Chief goes over the calls from the previous night and different things to be on the lookout for. After roll call, we [the officers] get our car ready for our daily patrol.”
Kaitlyn has an assigned area to patrol and take calls for from the dispatch office. She is off the road by 3 p.m. each day and then does training or works out from 3 to 4 p.m.--her favorite part of the day.
Williams enjoys working with other recent MNU alums on the force, Swede (Timothy) Johnson (‘12) and Kurt Reglin (‘12). In another strong tie to MNU, the Lenexa PD utilizes MNU Strength and Conditioning Coach Whitney Rodden. The officers actually work out and practice Olympic lifting at MNU’s Cook Center facility.
“It’s nice to be able to work with people who have a similar backgrounds and to still have ties with MNU,” Williams said. “It’s really cool that the police department works with Coach Rodden.”
One challenge Williams encounters on the job is her youth.
“I have less life experience than the older officers,” said Williams. “I try to learn from them as much as possible.”
Her long-term goal is to work in every area of law enforcement, including the drug unit, eventually becoming a detective.
Williams concluded by saying that becoming a police officer is rewarding work, but that it is important to research before applying to police departments.
“I would highly suggest talking to officers from different departments and asking what they like or don’t like about their departments,” explained Williams. “It’s also important to apply early, so don’t wait until graduation!”
For Williams, becoming a police officer has been one of the best experiences of her life. She has not only found her dream job, but also a group she calls family.