As part of our profile series celebrating Policewomen inspiring changes over the years, Senior Constable Agnieszka Ringer from Edmonton police has agreed to provide a peek at her career to date.
Agnieszka was born in Poland before immigrating to Australia at age 20. She later joined the Queensland Police Service in 2004 where she was sworn in. A transfer to Cairns in August of 2004, saw her complete her first year Constable program and then she packed up and started relieving duties around the Cape York for approximately one year.
During this time she worked in Bamaga, Lockhart River, Coen, Hopevale and Wujal Wujal where she learnt the art of cray and spear fishing. Growing up in Poland, the Baltic Sea (very cold and not very clear), was the only ocean she knew. Fish from that area came in ‘plate’ size, so to see and eat large barramundi, coral trout and crayfish was a highlight in itself.
Agnieszka enjoyed her Cape community lifestyle which included plenty of fishing and diving. She was amazed at the stunning underwater world that existed up here in the tropics. She mentioned that whilst she loved her diving she would often get the fright of her life at the sight of a large shadow coming toward her, but thankfully on each occassion it was either a large turtle or stingray.
Cape life didn’t stop there, Agnieszka learnt to 4WD in the police ‘Troopy’. She said, “You pretty much learn to 4WD fast. It’s a matter of sinking litterally or swimming. Dependant on the season, we have a lot of mud, sand, creeks, rivers, natural springs, fallen trees and more mud to negotiate up there.”
2006 saw Agnieszka take up a permanent posting in Cooktown before she returned to the big smoke of Edmonton in 2009. She has performed both first response duties in uniform as well as relieving plain clothes duties at both the Edmonton and Cairns Criminal Investigation Branches (CIB).
She’s taken on leadership roles over the years and recently organised a police operation which involved swearing out 15 search warrants, briefing and co-ordinating 16 officers throughout the operation. Agnieszka has a very strong Polish accent and whilst her English is good, it’s still her second language. She said, “I’m a straight shooter and tend to leave out all the words that make a polite speech. I don’t tend to start or end a speech with pink fluffy words. My team understood me and they worked like Swiss watches. I was later told that they were scared after I yelled out my first ‘Do you understand?’. We had a job to do and they focused to get the job done with excellent results.”
If you’ve met Agnieszka, you would understand what those officers were thinking. That tough and determined attitude is working to the advantage of local police, as Agnieszka doesn’t shy away from tackling all offenders, in particular those involved in drugs.
When asked about her career aspirations, Agnieszka was to the point and said, “I just want to be a good cop, do my job well and be happy with what I do and how I do it. Going home each night I can look back at my day and see that I’ve locked up someone that needed being locked up and I’ve played a big part in making our community better. It makes me happy and that automatically makes me strive to do better and enjoy work again the next day.”
“Over the past 10 years, our shirts are pretty much the same, but thankfully our trousers have changed. Our old pants were itchy and made of a material that felt like plastic. They were made to suit women of all shapes and sizes and they had a high waist. With my build I looked like I stole the pants off MC Hammer, so I was more than happy with the change to cargo pants,” Senior Constable Ringer said.
When I asked Agnieszka if she faced any problems during her career, she was quick to point out she’s had to deal with her fair share of bigots over the years. She said, “With my accent being quite strong and difficult for some people to understand, I have the ‘privilege’ of being able to establish within two minutes of speaking with someone if they are a bigot or not. I must admit over the years I’ve become more forgiving of those that have been extremely rude due to my accent as I’ve realised bigots are often set in their ways and not able to handle change.”
Although Agnieszka doesn’t have children, she is married and does have a dog who has been her faithful companion for the past nine years and travelled all through the Cape communities with her. She said, “He is very protective of me and makes his intentions known very quickly if he thinks I’m being threatened. He is an older dog and does require a bit of attention from me, much like a child would.”
As I’ve previously stated, policing is certainly a good career for women, but Agnieszka has some words of advice for any potential female recruits. She said, “I would strongly recommend policing as a career for women who are not only physically fit, but mentally strong. If you like a challenge and not afraid to get your hands dirty, it may be the job for you. You need to be able to control a heated situation and have that presence about you which will show that you mean business. You don’t have to get in their and rip heads off, but the people you are managing need to be aware that you can if you have to.”
Agnieszka points out very bluntly, “if you are someone who thinks its your right to work along side a male officer because he’s fit and he can help you out, get another job. If you think its your right to call for backup because you are working with another woman, get another job. If you think you can rely on other officers to keep you safe until you can get into a specialty section off the road, then get another job. That message is for both men and women. It is hard work and you will be expected to get in there and do the hard yards. Our community expects us to do the job so all potential recruits need to be aware of that before they get to their police station.”
In her current role at Edmonton Police Station, her daily shift includes mulitple jobs, and a wide variety of them. They can include anything from domestic disturbances to a fatal traffic crash, shop lifting, burglary, misbehaving juveniles or someone suffering from a mental illness. Agnieszka’s favourite duty is spent typing up another search warrant for drugs or just catching up on her paperwork.