By Yoos, Cam on January 27, 2020.
Sometimes, just a few conversations can completely change someone’s life. For Maria Munson, it was discussions with her high school’s resource officer that led her to pursue a career in policing.
“She was an intelligent, confident, fit and well-spoken women,” says Munson. “I admired her as a strong female in what was typically a male-dominated field. She always took the time to speak to me about policing and encouraged my interest in a policing career.”
Munson showed confidence of her own, entering the college’s Criminal Justice program straight out of high school when she was just 18. Despite her youth, Munson thrived in the program, backed by a supportive faculty who left a lasting impression on her. She got her first taste of real police work during a practicum with the Lethbridge Police Service (LPS).
She had the opportunity to ride-along with multiple officers, which she says was an eye-opening experience – especially to learn about what policing during nightshifts is really like. She encourages current and future students to take full advantage of the practicum opportunities available to them.
Munson’s motivation and focus throughout her practicum did not go unnoticed, as LPS offered her a job. At 21 years old, she was a full-time police officer.
“I have always been a driven, ambitious and goal-orientated person,” she says. “I was absolutely thrilled to be offered the job at such a young age.”
She was the only female in her recruitment class and was by far the youngest person. Munson says working for LPS gave her a strong foundation in a busy environment and allowed her to respond to a variety of calls.
“I worked a one-man car, which allowed me to learn excellent officer safety skills and a quick ‘think on my feet’ response,” she says.
After two years with LPS, Munson decided to apply to the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) to be closer to her family. It meant learning a whole new skill set, as EPS had more members and more specialized departments. But that also meant more opportunities.
She says a highlight of her career is working in the Crime Scene Investigation Unit, doing forensics investigations. She took to the investigative side of policing naturally and began to specialize in forensics work. She became an expert in fingerprint identification and was promoted to the rank of detective/sergeant in 2019.
“The biggest reward in my policing career is being able to help others and make a difference in just a few people’s lives,” says Munson. “There are some people I have encountered that I will never forget.”
Now an experienced officer, Munson has a chance to be a role model to a new generation, just as her high school resource officer was to her as a young student.
“She’s still on the job and I’ve had the opportunity to work with her on several files,” says Munson. “I use her as an example of how I can be a mentor to younger candidates and recruits.”