Detective Olena Fedorovich
What did you do prior to becoming a police officer? What is your background? What is your education? What are your interests and hobbies?
With the exception of a few moments of distraction, my goal was always to be a police officer. I geared most of my education and training towards preparing me for this career. I graduated from the University of Alberta with a BA in criminology and later worked as a security officer at West Edmonton Mall. To earn extra money while going to school, I worked part time as a server and bartender. With the intention of getting a head start on combat skills, I attended boxing, kickboxing and taekwondo classes while in high school and university.
I have no problem keeping myself occupied. I am passionate about strength and cardiovascular training (running/cycling/swimming). I've attended the World Police and Fire Games and dabbled in a few competitions. These experiences certainly humbled me and pushed me to work harder. I love to write, read and travel. I am big on weekend trips out of town and a few days to weeklong backpacking treks through the mountains. Winter sports have never excited me, but I recently learned to ski and I'm now itching for next ski season.
How did you prepare for the process and training?
In high school, I realized that I'd better get busy and start working towards my police application. I knew I wasn't going to apply until after I obtained a degree, but I was aware that the biggest obstacle I faced was physical fitness. I was healthy, but no sports fanatic and I certainly wasn't lifting myself up on a chin up bar. I continued to work at running and strength training. To be honest, I became really frustrated and distracted at times and I looked at other career options. I always came back to policing and pushed myself back into the gym. I also started to choose my friends better. Hanging out with questionable peers was no longer an option.
I figured that I needed something to make my application more attractive. I wasn't a sports major, and I couldn’t recognize anything “special” that a police service would want. So, I changed directions in university and applied to the criminology program. I hadn't planned on submitting my application so soon after graduating from university, but everything seemed to fall into place. The time was right and I was getting pretty anxious.
What is your current position, rank and how many years have you been a police officer?
I have been a member almost nine years — including the pre-hire stage and recruit class. I am a constable and currently working in Training Section as a control tactics and CEW instructor.
Why did you choose EPS?
I researched many services in the United States and some across Canada. There are some very attractive agencies out there. But, I had been told many times that EPS had one of the best reputations across North America for quality of police officers. The EPS entrance standards, including physical fitness, were higher than others. This excited me. I wanted to be a part of an agency that had a superior reputation and my pride refused to allow me to settle for an agency with lesser standards.
Edmonton was my home. I had developed friendships with some EPS officers and some of my mentors were EPS members. Despite the horrific Edmonton winters, I wanted to remain in Edmonton.
How do you think women contribute to the job?
I believe that each individual, male or female, contributes substantially to the job. I have heard people say that women are more verbal and compassionate with those in need. Yet, I have worked with men who are extremely good talkers, negotiators and are just as compassionate as women. On the same token, I have met very strong women with natural leadership and organizational abilities.
Where have you been in your career and where do you want to go?
I started out in patrol in West Division. I spent almost a year in Communications as a call evaluator/dispatcher and assisted with the PLATO project. I later returned to West Division and worked as a BEAT officer and then a NET officer. I have been in Training Section for two years.
Where do I want to go? In time, I would like to work in the Major Crimes Unit. For now, I'm having fun and have a couple specialized units in mind.
What suggestions can you give a female trying to get on the job?
This applies to both genders: be prepared to work harder than you ever have before. I'm not going to lie…you have to be strong. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Policing is a life choice, not just a job. You can find balance, but it isn't always easy. I'm still looking.
Be yourself. Know and set your boundaries. You will be no different than anyone else. Reputation is very important. Cherish it. Set your sights and goals high. Don't settle because of perceived cultural limitations.
Find mentors. Don't be afraid to ask for help. We all need it. Your mentors should be female and male. Don't quit.
*since this article has been published, Olen Fedorovich has been promoted to being a Detective.