CPS Interview: Sgt. Lillian Ruygrok

CPS Interview: Sgt. Lillian Ruygrok

Could you let us know a bit about yourself and your role within the Calgary Police Service?

I joined the Calgary Police Service in 1997, as a member of Class 121. I completed my Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees prior to joining the Service. I also worked as a Correctional officer prior to joining.

I’ve had the privilege to have worked in District 6 in multiple capacities including front line patrol and the Mountain Bike Unit, and I transferred to District 4 and continued my career in patrol and in their Mountain Bike Unit.  I also took on the role of Acting Operational District Sergeant. I’ve had the pleasure of working in the Canine Unit alongside my amazing partner (Nate – a German shepherd from the Netherlands), and most recently as an Academic Sergeant within the CCLC

Now, regarding my role as an Academic Training Sergeant, I find it exceptionally gratifying working with recruits. Their positive energy radiates throughout our unit and injects the instructors with (almost) youthful exuberance.  Watching them endure the training and develop into police officers is incredibly rewarding and makes me reflect on my training and the many reasons I joined the Calgary Police Service.

What inspired you to join the police service?

I was very interested in the field of Forensic Science and envisioned myself becoming a member of the Crime Scenes Unit. However, I loved patrol to the point where I completely abandoned the thought of Crime Scene work and focused on frontline call response. I’ll share a fond memory with you. With only a couple of days into my career, I was involved in a foot chase of an offender who fled a stolen vehicle. He ran into Fish Creek Park but it was so dark, I lost sight of him. Eventually the Canine Unit attended to back me up and search for the offender. While with the Canine Unit and the assistance of the HAWCS (Helicopter Air Watch for Community Safety) we located the offender hiding under a bridge. This was such an exciting experience for me, and from that point on I was addicted to patrol work and set my sights on becoming a member of the Canine Unit.

Do you believe there are any advantages to being a female in the service?

Absolutely! From my experience, it can and has resulted in de-escalating several situations. For example, when there are confrontational offenders who are irate and volatile with male officers, I’ve had them calm down and become cooperative with me because it was a female talking to them in a calm voice.

Is there any areas that you believe need to be worked upon to advance women’s roles in police services?

I believe the executive office is working diligently to improve the Calgary Police Service as a respectful workplace. Not only for women but all individuals who come from all walks of life. I have yet to find an area within the service where a woman could not work in or excel.

What is some advice you would give to other females hoping to join the police?

While there is the academic portion of policing (policies, procedures and criminal code charges), there is also the physical side and women must prepare by physically training hard. It must incorporated into your lifestyle. It is not only passing a written exam or passing a physical test to get hired; maintaining a healthy mind and body over the span of your career is vital. Have an area to channel stress via a positive outlet (running, cycling, weights etc). This will figuratively rescue you during trying and emotional times from what you will see and hear as an officer. In the past I have used trail running and mountain biking, but now I use weights and began powerlifting. It doesn’t really matter what you focus on, providing you keep active and remain fit as the job can bring unexpected situations.

What parts or memories stand out as most meaningful to you during your time as a member of the police service?

Definitely the people I have met along the way and the friendships I have forged. In fact, I met my husband Dennis while on a high risk call. We were containing a house and the offender refused to exit but rather sent a Pitbull and Rottweiler out the door in our direction. We were able to get them under control, but just as you can imagine, it was pretty chaotic for a bit.  We eventually went on a date (a couple of years after that call) and immediately hit it off. We are now married and have a beautiful daughter. It is nice to be married to another police officer as we both understand the emotional charge and sacrifice one must make. I will always be thankful to the Calgary Police Service for this.

In addition to my husband, working in the Canine Unit with my police service dog Nate, holds some of my fondest memories. Nate would find offenders hiding when I couldn’t see them with my own eyes. This gave me such an appreciation for the Canine Unit and the role these dogs play in patrol, keeping our members and citizens safe. We once found a robbery suspect hiding as he literally buried himself. Initially, I thought it was just a discarded shoe but quickly discovered, with the help of Nate, we found a person attached while under a large pile of dirt. I was and always will be in awe over the work the service dogs do and what they are capable of.

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