Joining the ranks

Monet Levicki was one and a half years into a college major of chemical engineering, with her sights on medical school, when the light flicked on.

“I suddenly realized, I don’t think I’m going to love this,” she said. “The passion just isn’t there.”

It turns out her passion was for police work. So Monet got moving.

She changed her major at the University of Utah to anthropology, a minor to sociology, and earned a certificate in criminology and corrections. She completed two internships at the Salt Lake City Police Department – one in public information, the other in the homicide unit. Three years later, she applied and was accepted to the SLCPD Academy, which combines its own curriculum with the coursework of the state’s Police Officers Standards and Training.

Photo Jun 14, 11 34 24 AMMonet, who is 27, graduated on June 16th, a member of the SLCPD’s newest class of 17 cadets. She is the only woman of the group. She feels a blend of excitement and a little anxiety about hitting the streets. But she hasn’t any doubts about joining the profession.

“I think everyone in the class feels the same way. We are here because we want to help others. We want to make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who addressed the cadets at their graduation, said “Salt Lake City is fortunate to add 17 more brave and dedicated police officers to our team. They have tested themselves throughout their training, and are ready to go to work. We are grateful for their service to our community.”

The 2017 cadet class ranges in age from 23 to 45. Two graduates are Latino, one is Asian, and the rest are white. One class member, 37-year-old Gary Carter, is a Salt Lake City firefighter. He will remain with the fire department, but will become a fire and arson investigator – a specialty that requires POST certification. Gary will now join a team of eight POST-certified fire investigators at the SLCFD.

“It’s what I would call a medium-sized cadet class,” said Police Sargent Jennifer Diederich. “It’s a very good class. They want to get out there and get to work. You can see it in their eyes. They are ready.”

Sergeant Diederich is one of two training sergeants and oversees the SLCPD Academy, which operates out of the Pioneer Precinct at 1040 West 700 South. The Academy typically hosts two classes each year, one for recruits and one for “laterals” – officers moving to Salt Lake City from other police agencies. Because they are already POST-certified, their training covers SLCPD curriculum only.Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 12.11.14 PM

For cadets like Monet, police training takes 20 weeks, five days a week, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cadets must master academics and training in core police skills – firearms, emergency vehicle operations and medical assistance, defensive tactics, use of Tasers and mace, law, bias training, and de-escalation tactics.

Monet and her classmates will now undertake 12 weeks of the department’s field training to finish the full program. Then it’s out to the streets of Salt Lake City.

Is she fearful at all for her safety?

“I do have a sense of anxiety, but it isn’t overpowering,” Monet said. “I’m working on my command presence,” she said, smiling. “But there is always that fear of the unknown when you leave for work every day.”

She feels more secure knowing the SLCPD makes officer safety its top priority. “And I’m surrounded by a great group of peers who will always back each other up,” Monet said.

Looking ahead to the next 25 years of policing, she said, is easier when she breaks up the time with short-term goals. She wants to use her anthropology background to work positively with the City’s many communities and cultures. “I love the study of people. I know I bring something to the table in understanding people. I believe everyone is basically good and I want them to know that as a police officer I’m here to help and assist.”

Monet shares her off-duty life with her husband of almost one year, Ryan Sunderland, a bioinformatics analyst at ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City. They adore their six-year-old Leavitt bulldog, Saffron. Monet also likes to hike, camp, and cook—mostly chocolate desserts.

And, as an only child who grew up in Utah County, she said her job as a police officer has a built-in bonus.

“I have a whole new family of brothers, she said. “Sixteen of them.”

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