Women’s History Month: Lt. Gwen Phillips

This year, for Women’s History Month, we’re honoring our staff members and female MDT Partners who are truly making a difference in their field.

Please meet Lieutenant Gwen Phillips!

 

  • # of years in this field:

    • I have 16 years total in law enforcement. 8 working for a municipal police department and I’m finishing my 8th year with the Spring-Ford school police.

  • This year’s theme for Women’s History Month is “Providing healing and Promoting Hope.” How do you provide healing and/or promote hope in your line of work?

    • Working in the school environment takes a special kind of officer. Unlike working patrol, we see our clientele every day and they become very attached to us. As a school police officer, my role shifts constantly between being a mentor, teacher, counselor, guardian, and police officer. How I promote healing in my job is by beginning the process of identifying who needs access to care. Once a child who needs help has been identified the process of healing can begin. A child in distress can spend a long time under the radar and it’s part of my job to find the ones who have been missed. Promoting hope is one of our main challenges with teenagers. So many of them live in a world that is black and white and very final. Everything is a big deal when you’re a teenager. As adults we can use our life experiences to get over problems or arguments with friends. We understand that with a little time and patience, most bad days will pass. Most teens are so fragile in their thinking, they lack the resiliency to adapt and overcome. I find myself constantly encouraging them with affirmation and positivity. I offer my time, I listen to them and don’t discount their feelings as trivial or “hormonal”. We focus on the problem in a rational way and work together to find their strengths to succeed in difficult times. This is not an overnight process and often it will take me months, even years to cultivate a trusting relationship with a student. I have many alumni who still call me for advice or just a little reassurance.

  • What sparked your interest in this field? What led you to pursue a career in law enforcement?

    • Three reasons…First, I was a pretty poorly behaved teenager. Can’t beat them…join them! Second, I was 20 years old when September 11th happened. I’ll never forget the way the country shook with fear and how we celebrated the first responders who sacrificed their lives to help that day. I wanted to be someone who could help (as cliché as that sounds).  Third, I met Chief Kevin McKeon (New Hanover Twp) shortly after 9/11 and he dragged me into the police profession and I never looked back!

  • If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?

    • Work ALL the overtime!!!!

  • What advice would you have for another female considering a career in law enforcement?

    • Don’t try to be one of the boys. You will never police like a man and that is OK.  Be yourself.  Use your attributes to your advantage. You have more power than you think. Don’t be afraid to try new things and make mistakes. Start physical training before you start applying for jobs and continue a physical fitness journey throughout your career. Treat yourself with kindness, eat healthy food, prioritize your sleep and keep your family first.

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