BOISE, Idaho — "Is being different sometimes a strength?" I asked.
"Absolutely!" said Officer Jessica Raddatz, Boise Police Department (BPD).
Officer Raddatz serves in the domestic violence division at BPD.
"The whole concept of community policing is evolving. It's becoming more empathetic, forward-thinking. And adding females to that mix is the perfect combination."
And while she may not look like most other BPD officers, the officer of five years says being a woman often works to the community's advantage.
"The majority of domestic violence victims we serve in this community are primarily female. I think that in itself is maybe easier for a victim to come speak with a female officer about what they experienced."
Currently, 12 percent of sworn officers at BPD are women.
"I think that maybe a lot of women wouldn't be drawn to this type of career."
Still, the number of female officers grew by 191 percent since 1999.
20 years ago there were only 12 female sworn officers in BPD. Now, there are 35.
"I would say-- being male or female-- this is a profession that you need to be built for."
Raddatz says her desire to serve started at a young age.
"My mom-- I watched her for years struggle with poor choices in relationships."
In watching her mother grow through those experiences, Raddatz said she herself was empowered.
"I wanted to be that person that somebody in the community could come to, that was a safe person to speak with, to rely on."
She says she hopes to be that person for aspiring young women cops as well.
"You kind of have to step into it with a little bit of faith."
And for those who say policing is a man's job, Officer Raddatz says this:
"Strength looks like many different things. Strength can look like communication and deescalating a volatile situation, strength can look like being that person that knows how to deal with a child when someone else may not have the skill set to do so. Women bring so many different qualities to the job that it really just reinforces how we're trying to serve our community."