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Proud of policing and parenting

Police Senior Sergeant Jennifer Hansen. PHOTO/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

In honour of International Women’s Day [March 8], SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI talks to some of Wairarapa’s inspiring women. Police response manager Senior Sergeant Jennifer Hansen talks about balancing her home and work life.

Wairarapa police response manager Jennifer Hansen knew she wanted to be a police officer when she was just three years old.

“This was the only thing I wanted to do,” the senior sergeant said. She has been with the police for almost 15 years, her whole adult working life.

Hansen does not know what initially inspired her to join police – she’d had no specific dealings with any officers or had any family members who were part of the force.

“My mum wanted to join when she was young but there used to be height restrictions, and she was too short.”

It was lucky for Hansen that those restrictions, which had unfairly impacted women, had been removed, she said.

There had “definitely” been an increase in female police officers, even within her time.

“Some of the recruitment have a 50/50 split,” she said, “When I think what it used to be like … try to do the job without us. I just don’t think we could.”

Having female officers was vital as it reflected the community and sometimes helped people relate to officers more easily.

“There’s a lot of things that really lend themselves to our strengths,” Hansen said.

“Over 50 per cent of our core business is dealing with family violence, so there’s that tendency to be able to relate.

“I’ve always never wanted the fact that I was female to be seen as a positive or a negative.”

Hansen had three children while working for police. She spent last year’s covid lockdown separated from them to keep them safe and still do her job.

“It was just too much risk,” she said.

“I continually get the case of the mum guilts and the work guilts, but I think that’s normal.”

While she had been inspired by a range of women for a range of reasons, one woman in particular sprang to mind.

“It might sound a bit cliché, but probably just my mum. She’s just a top lady,” Hansen said.

“I can only hope that my daughter would say the same one day.”

One of her proudest accomplishments has been balancing having a family and a career, which has not always been easy.

“There’s plenty of mums who would say she put herself first,” she said.

“But I’m there every morning and night with my children, and yet I’m still here every day giving my all.”

One of the lessons she has learnt over the years has been to take opportunities as they came.

“It’s always really easy to say it’s not the right time,” Hansen said, “But there’ll never be a perfect time.

“Sometimes you have to find reasons to make something happen rather than find reasons for why they can’t. If it’s important to you, you will find a time and a way to make it happen.”

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