Another summer Carol hired me to spend several weeks with the Linn County Sheriff’s Department. In this instance, she had been hired by the County to see if they should defend a charge brought against them for sex discrimination. I was to spend several weeks basically hanging out with the men(they were all men–a clue about the merit of the charge!) and see if they appeared to have a discriminatory view of women in the department.
I enjoyed them very much, since they reminded me of all my old rural neighbors and police I had taught. They were very relaxed with me and we had honest conversations. One time they even took me into the old jail cells which at that time were still part of the courthouse. It was very chilling to go through several locked doors to get inside, even though I knew it was just for looking, not staying.
At another time, they were gleeful about arresting a car thief. When I asked how they had captured him, they said they went to his house and found a bunch of stolen cars. I was astonished about his careless storage of the cars. They laughed and teased me about thinking crooks were smart. They assured me that most criminals were pretty dumb.
But they were very blunt about stating that they did not think a woman belonged patrolling the isolated far reaches of the county. They didn’t think it was safe. Of course, that proved the claim of sex discrimination. So, I had to report back to Carol that the County should settle and not contest the charge. I bid them goodbye, respecting their old school chivalry but aware that it no longer had a place in Linn County.