On July 8-9, 2022, the Concord Police Department made history when an all-woman shift kept the peace in the Massachusetts town. Before, there always had been at least one male officer on duty in the community. From left: Officer Cara Paladino, Officer Leah Olansky, Sgt. Tia Manchuso, and Officer Brianna Rudolph. Concord Police Department photo.
For a Massachusetts town that’s been around for 387 years, Concord has seen its share of history.
But on July 7, the police force in this Middlesex County burg did something it’s never done before. At 11:30 p.m., Sgt. Tia Manchuso and Officers Caroline Paladino, Leah Olansky, and Brianna Rudolph radioed dispatch to say they were in service, ready for calls.
And for the first time in Concord, every cop on duty was a woman.
“I grew up in California, born and raised, and we didn’t see a ton of women in uniform,” Rudolph told Coffee or Die Magazine. “So I guess, now that this has come out and we’ve celebrated the historical moment, it’s kind of like, okay, maybe younger kids can see us in that uniform and think that they can do it, too. You know, show kids something a little bit different than what they’re used to.”
Concord Police Officer Brianna Rudolph grew up in California. Concord Police Department photo.
Law enforcement remains a profession dominated by men. Nationwide, roughly 13% of sworn officers are women. On the Concord force, it’s slightly higher. Six of the department’s 36 cops are women.
So Manchuso and Police Chief Joseph O’Connor knew the roster would randomly align at some point to create an all-woman shift.
The summer vacation made it all come together. Paladino is Concord’s school resource officer. When classes ended, she rotated back to the force for patrol shifts. And then the vacant night shift slot opened up.
“It was something that I never expected to be a part of. A very, very positive experience for all of us,” Paladino told Coffee or Die.
Concord Police Officer Caroline Paladino fires her service weapon at a range in Massachusetts, June 5, 2019. Concord Police Department photo.
Paladino went into law enforcement four years ago after someone broke into her car. She didn’t want to feel like an angry victim. She wanted to fight crime.
For Manchuso, it’s a family tradition. Her grandfather, Joe Manchuso, retired as a Concord Police officer at the age of 65. When she told him she had her eyes on law enforcement, he warned her about sexism in the ranks but urged her to follow her dreams.
“He’s like, ‘Just do your job, be yourself, and you’ll do great,’” Manchuso said. “So he did kind of give me, like, a pep talk about the environment and some of the things that went on and I still did it.”
She spent seven years as a dispatcher in the Concord Public Safety Communications section before taking her first shift as a sworn officer in 2013. There was one other woman wearing a badge in Concord.
Concord Police Sgt. Tia Manchuso was promoted to sergeant at the Massachusetts department on June 15, 2021. Concord Police Department photo.
When the all-female shift ended at 8 a.m. on July 8, the cops were happy. They posed for photos and the department put them on social media.
That triggered some commenters to lash out at the women and O’Connor’s leadership, arguing that crime had been allowed to go unchecked overnight because women can’t be as good at policing as guys.
O’Connor wasn’t surprised to read the pigheaded comments, just disappointed because he saw their views as so antiquated.
“These female officers are highly, highly qualified and highly, highly trained, and they can perform the job just like any of the other officers,” O’Connor said. “The expectations are the same for everybody to deliver exceptional service to our community, and these officers certainly do that.”
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Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion.
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