Living a life of service to others
From her days with the U.S. Air Force to becoming a highly respected patrolman with Hot Springs Police Department, Officer Tifani McCauley has lived a life of service to others.
McCauley attended a 12-week course at the Arkansas State Academy in Pocahontas for her police training. She said most of the 12 weeks consisted of classroom work and the trainees were tested weekly.
One week of the training was designated for defensive tactics, primarily Krav Maga, the Israeli fighting-style, which McCauley said is a basic martial art “where you strike fast and hard — fists, elbows, knees and feet strikes.”
Other training included a full week on the range with their duty pistols, rifles and shotguns and training on the standard field sobriety test.
“The best day was when we were put in a large metal Conex box — I know, sounds terrible. They threw rocks at the box and then pulled out three to five of us at a time. They grilled us on tactics and the Constitution with burpees and push-ups as punishment for a wrong or slow answer. Once you passed the first step you had to answer another question, then flip a large tractor tire on your own,” she said. “I shot from 50 yards to a steel target with them screaming at me, pouring water on me and using a siren to distract me. Miraculously, I hit the target the first time.
“I am thankful I have read up on the Constitution for several years now. It is the most important document to me, second to God’s Word,” she added.
She was hired at the Hot Springs Police Department on Aug. 17, 2015.
McCauley was active duty Air Force for four years from September 1997 to September 2001. She left active duty seven days after Sept. 11, 2001. She later re-entered the Air Force Reserves, then found a job at Little Rock Air Force Base as a mechanic on C-130 aircraft. Later, she said she found out about the intelligence squadron across the street that dealt with the unmanned aerial vehicles and she became a geospatial analyst, which she still does today.
She attained 20 years in the Air Force on April 1 of this year and is currently a master sergeant E-7.
As far as her work in law enforcement goes, McCauley said there was no specific event in her life that swayed her to want to become a police officer. She just knew she would one day become one, but put it off for many years due to personal reasons.
Throughout her careers in the military and law enforcement, McCauley has learned and distinguished three kinds of people in society: the sheep, the wolf, and the sheepdog.
“The sheep are your average citizen who never hurts another sheep, except by accident. Then there is the wolf. The wolf is the evil in our society who preys on the sheep. Then there is the sheepdog. The sheepdog hunts the wolf and keeps the sheep safe. Sometimes the sheep are afraid of the sheepdog because he has fangs like the wolf and is capable of violence like the wolf. But the sheepdog never visits violence upon the sheep and always keeps the sheep safe.
“The sheepdog has the capacity for violence like the wolf does, but also a deep love for his fellow citizens. He trains for the day he may have to kill the wolf so he is
capable physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Sheep may not understand, but even though the sheepdog does not desire to kill, he still has a desire for a righteous battle. John 15:3 says, ‘Greater love has no one than this: That they give their life for their friends.’ We sheepdogs are shields for the sheep. I am a sheepdog,” she said.
Knowing who she is and knowing how to read people are two qualities that McCauley considers personal strengths. She said she is capable of being firm or gentle, depending on the incident, and can be loud and forceful to gain control of a situation before dropping the tone of her voice to a level that is respectful and calm.
“I’m not afraid of physical harm. This life is temporary,” she said. “I would not put myself in harm’s way just because I am not afraid, but will use my training to ensure no one else, including my fellow officers, get hurt trying to save me.”
McCauley admits that she has weaknesses, too, that occasionally hurt her on the job.
“I tend to want to explain a rule, law or policy to one who claims they ‘know the law’ or ‘knows their rights.’ It is actually sad that so many citizens do not know either. Sometimes I care too much about the truth and make it a mission to display the truth no matter the consequences,” she said.
She added that she knows it is not her duty or responsibility to inform everyone she comes in contact with about the facts and the truth, and that, sometimes, they must find out the hard way.
“I have learned to explain that I need to clarify a question with sergeant. That usually helps the citizen be more confident I get the answer correct. Our sergeants always tell us to call them if we need them,” she said.
When asked what qualities one must have to be successful as a law enforcement officer, she said, “You must have the calling. This is not a job; this is a calling. Some do it for a while and some do it for years, finding out later this is not who they are. Sometimes it just means they need to be a sheepdog in another area of life. You have to know who you are. You cannot be the bully who thinks he can take on bullies with his badge. You have to care about people. You can disagree with everyone about religion, politics and other opinions and still care about people.
“You have to know when a person cannot be helped because they do not want help. They want someone to do it all for them. You have to politely let those people down and go to your next call for service. Yes, you have to be able to write the nice, old lady a ticket and recommend a retest because she is no longer physically capable of driving.”
Each morning McCauley gets up to report for service she puts on her duty belt. On her belt is her O.C. (pepper) spray, a tourniquet, her duty gun, a baton, two pairs of handcuffs, a flashlight, a TASER gun, and two extra ammo magazines. She said she estimates the belt weighs about 20 pounds.
McCauley once saved an 18-year-old man with her tourniquet.
She said the man was babysitting for close family friends and while making a bed, saw a firearm and tried to move it aside and accidentally shot himself, the bullet hitting his left hand and left thigh.
“I approached him and saw a large pool of bright, red blood. I knew the bullet had hit his artery. I fidgeted with my gloves and will forever regret that; it took precious seconds away from his life. I applied the tourniquet high up on his left thigh and pulled down on the strap, telling him it would hurt but it would save his life. He remained calm —I think he was in shock. Soon, LifeNet personnel arrived and ensured the tourniquet was applied correctly. He lived and kept his leg. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome, except I wished he had never had that experience or pain,” McCauley said.
I would not put myself in harm’s way just because I am not afraid, but will use my training to ensure no one else, including my fellow officers, get hurt trying to save me.
McCauley said her dream is to one day become a K-9 officer. She currently works with the K-9s and their handlers as a decoy.
“Some days I just hide the scents they track and some days I suit up and get bit repeatedly. I love it! Of course, right after the day is over, the dogs come up and want me to pet them. They are very well-balanced,” she said.
A few months ago McCauley was named HSPD’s Officer of the Quarter, an honor that she said she is very appreciative of, though she says being in the spotlight is nerve-racking.
When asked what advice she would give to other women considering a career in law enforcement, she said, “This is not a time for the ‘I can do what the boys can do’ show- off moment. This is real life. Know who you are and if you are meant to be here. Use any mothering instinct to care about people, but do not let it overwhelm you and end up ignoring a dangerous situation. Take your far left feminist ideal somewhere else. This is about the guy beside you, not you.”
When she isn’t working, McCauley enjoys hanging out with her dog and reading books about dog behavior. She said she looks up to Ceasar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, and hopes that one day she can teach others about dogs and their behavior, too.
Garland County Sheriff ’s Department Deputy Wendy Guthrie also knows a thing or two about dealing with society, as she works directly with adult inmates at the Garland County Detention Center.
Guthrie completed her deputy training locally and was hired at the department in November 2016.
Though she had never worked in law enforcement prior to taking this position, she knew what she was getting into, as she was once married to a military police officer.
“I always wanted to perform public service duties, and because of a previous marriage, he wouldn’t allow me to better myself and do a job like I’m doing now. So when it came to a time in my life where I was capable is when I applied for it,” she said.
Guthrie said her favorite part of what she does is counseling inmates on why they’re in jail and what they could do to prevent returning.
On her duty belt, Guthrie carries pepper spray, handcuffs and a flashlight. Due to security reasons, detention center deputies are not allowed to carry their duty gun or ammo inside of the secure housing unit. “If we get attacked the inmates can take our weapons from us,” she said.
There are times, though, when she is required to wear her weapon on the job.
“If you’re in booking or in another part that is not directly housing inmates, you have to do a security perimeter check, meaning you have to walk around the outside part of the jail and check doors and you have to be armed at that time. Another reason why we have to carry weapons is if someone were to escape, we would get in patrol cars and patrol the area and look for escapees. Also, anytime you are in a patrol car — we have to take a patrol car to juvenile detention to deliver the meals — we have to be armed when we’re in a patrol car,” Guthrie said.
Guthrie has only dealt with one incident where she thought she was going to be attacked by a mentally ill inmate who had a history of attacking deputies. Fortunately, the attack did not occur.
“(Mentally ill) inmates are more challenging, and I don’t have a degree in mental health. I’m not a physician. I’m not a mental health doctor, but I can talk to them like I talk to anyone else,” she said. “You kind of have to be more vigilant and be careful of what you say because the least little thing could set them off. You don’t know what mental illness they suffer from.”
According to Guthrie, willingness to perform a public service job and the ability to “hold your own” are two qualities an individual must have to be a detention center deputy. The individual must also be 21 years of age or older and have a clean criminal history and driving history.