SUISUN CITY — Local residents and motorists have been doing a double- and even a triple-take for the past six months when they have contact with police.
The night patrol crew of three female officers, all with first names that begin with “L,” began handling the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Thursday through Sunday shift, as well as every other Wednesday, in August 2013.
It’s a different take on the 1970s TV show, “Charlie’s Angels.” The three women and their commanding officer Master Sgt. Ted Stec heard the comparison several times.
The six-month rotation ended Friday and two of the three moved to day shift.
The arrangement happened quite by chance, Stec said. He was piecing together the schedule and noticed Lisa Evenson, Leslie Montgomery and Lindsay Sanford were the only names waiting for a shift. He offered them the opportunity to take other shifts. They declined.
“It may not happen again,” Stec said of the scheduling.
He said it was a fun way to make history. The department has one other female officer.
A female dispatcher, Brittany Hearn, was also part of the team. She was the one who used the call signs Georgia 1, Georgia 2 and Georgia 3. George would normally be the common call signs. Stec changed them to reflect that law enforcement isn’t the male-dominated profession it once was. He said he’d like to see even more qualified female officers on the job.
It was fun working with the female officers, Hearn said, but not just because of their gender. The whole night crew, which recently welcomed Officer Stephen Brown, was awesome, she said.
There were times when it was a little challenging. Hearn would get calls from people who didn’t recall the name of the female officer with whom they had spoken.
When pressed for more information, some recalled the officer’s name began with an “L.” Others would tell her the officer had her hair pulled back in a bun. Montgomery, Evenson and Sanford all pulled their tresses back, tight against the back of their head.
Guessing their height could narrow the field, slightly. Montgomery is the tallest. Sanford and Evenson are only separated by an inch.
The women knew the arrangement was special, but the three said it really didn’t feel different.
“I think we all trust each other,” Evenson said.
“We can all relate to what we were doing,” Montgomery said.
When all three were at the same location, double-takes were pretty common. The women also got plenty of approving nods, they said.
There were challenges, too.
The three were on duty when a home invasion happened with an active shooter. Stec praised them for the exceptional response time and their work in subduing the shooter, which cleared the way for medics to get to the victim.
All this went down during a countywide radio problem, he said.
Two of the three responded to a shooting in downtown Suisun City and managed the scene well, Stec said. The third, accompanied by a trainee, had just made a domestic violence arrest and was not available.
“All night long you were hearing women,” Stec said. “Ninety percent of the radio traffic was a female voice.”
Brown wouldn’t admit that he learned women are always right, but he said serving with three women was “definitely an interesting dynamic” at first.
Stec said he found the female officers have a pleasant ability to talk people down. There also appeared to be less bravado from male suspects when handled by the women, he said.
“I’ve had a great time and with Brown, too,” Evenson said. “I’m going to miss this shift. I’d do it again. I hope they feel the same.”
“We’ve built such a rapport with each other,” Montgomery said. “Lindsay knows me like the back of her hand. We had fun and have been led well by Master Sgt. Stec.”
Montgomery said she’d love to work the shift again with Evenson and Sanford, who, by the way, is staying on the night shift.
“It’s going to be sad,” she said. “It’s amazing how our strengths and weaknesses worked well together. There was no drama. We all just did our jobs.”
Brown and Sanford said they’d like to see the crew back together on the night shift.
“We’ve had a blast,” Stec said.
One recent night, in just the first few hours of their shift, the women dealt with two shoplifters, one a teen, the other on parole; a possible runaway; a person who was threatening suicide; and one very intoxicated woman who needed a trip to the county jail to sober up.
There were some traffic stops, too. One kept Montgomery busy because the car’s driver had a suspended license. Montgomery made phone calls to numbers provided by the driver in hopes of locating a licensed driver to take the car home.
Evenson served as a community service officer and school safety officer from 2005-08. She joined the force in 2008 and cites her favorite part of the job as traffic enforcement and boat patrol. She served as the officer-in-charge when Stec wasn’t available. She’s also a field training officer and previous officer of the year.
Montgomery joined the department in 2012 and lists her favorite duties as traffic enforcement and locating stolen cars. Sanford also served as a school officer from 2009-12 and became a police officer in 2013. Finding illegal drugs is what she enjoys most about her work.
Both have been nominated for awards from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.
The Suisun Police Department sponsored Evenson and Stanford at the Napa Valley Police Academy.
Over the six months, the shift was augmented by eight trainees and other patrol officers, when staffing levels permitted.
The women’s work over the past six months resulted in more than 225 traffic stops, more than 85 citations being issues and more than 150 adults arrested.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.