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'This is what I want to do'

Surrey RCMP Sgt. Monica Jodrey works on the detachment’s Child Abuse and Sexual Offences unit and finds the tough work rewarding.   - Evan Seal / The Leader
Surrey RCMP Sgt. Monica Jodrey works on the detachment’s Child Abuse and Sexual Offences unit and finds the tough work rewarding.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

In 2005, a drug-addicted teen sex trade worker arrived at the Surrey RCMP detachment to report she had been sexually assaulted.

At the same time, Langley RCMP was working on a case where a young girl had been yanked from her bicycle in Aldergrove and sexually assaulted in a van.

Surrey RCMP Sgt. Monica Jodrey, with the detachment’s Child Abuse and Sexual Offences (CASO) unit, says she immediately thought it was the same attacker and felt the sex trade worker attack was practice for the Aldergrove assault.

Jodrey remembers sitting with the teen and feeling like it was the first time the girl had a caring audience.

It had a profound impact, both on Jodrey and the young woman.

“She had stayed sober for the entire process after she had been assaulted,” Jodrey says.

“That was probably a big moment in my career.”

She also thought, “Yeah, this is what I want to do.”

It wasn’t always that way.

Her father was a cop and Jodrey showed little interest in following in his boot steps.

Initially, Jodrey, now 44, wanted to be an archaeologist. Then she had her heart set on becoming a lawyer, helping put criminals in jail.

But about three years into her studies, she dropped by the Calgary RCMP detachment to see if she could pick up a part-time job.

She was given a job in major crimes as a civilian transcriber of statements.

She says many of the courses she took pointed her in the direction of law enforcement.

“Maybe subconsciously I always wanted to (be a police officer),” Jodrey says.

“I truly thought I would take a hiatus from university, become a police officer, and carry on (with school) after.”

The move put her in the Kamloops RCMP during the mid-’90s, when the force largely operated as an old boys’ club.

With policing being a male-dominated profession, it’s a perception that for many, still persists today.

“I knew as a female member, there were expectations that I would be able to hold my own,” Jodrey says.

She was often given tasks involving speaking with sexually assaulted women or children.

“All those kinds of files came to me, or the other females on the watch,” Jodrey says, adding it was an assumption that women would be better at dealing with those cases.

“Having said that, I got my experience because of that perception.”

She eventually came to Surrey to work in CASO, one of the most difficult areas on the force because it involves children who have been assaulted. She currently oversees 18 people on the unit.

Her husband is a drug member of the Surrey RCMP, and chooses not to discuss her cases with her because they are so troubling.

Jodrey says her cases involve more than abused kids.

“We deal with the vulnerable,” she says. “Society is vulnerable. We deal with developmentally challenged people, adult kids, sex trade workers and children.

“End of the day… who else is more vulnerable than those categories of society?” she says.

Putting away the bad guys in these cases makes her job and life a little more rewarding.

With International Women’s Day approaching (March 8), Jodrey advises women considering police work to just be themselves.

“There are still a lot of hang-ups about women in policing,” Jodrey says adding she notices it most in smaller towns.

“Sometimes you are going to encounter it. It’s not all roses, it’s not all gender equality as much as some people think it is. You can’t control other people, you can only control what you do.”

And for younger women looking to launch a career, she urges them to complete their education first.

And as her dad told her: “Make sure you’re having fun, be nice to people and try your hardest.”

Celebrate women

International Women’s Day is Saturday, March 8.

In Surrey, in recognition of the day, the 12th-annual Shakti Awards Gala, which celebrates the achievements of women who make a difference in local communities, takes place March 8 at Bollywood Banquet Hall and Convention Centre, 8166 128 St.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be found at http://www.desievents.ca/ or visit http://www.shaktiawards.com/

The City of Surrey is also hosting events March 8 at Central City Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information can be found at http://tinyurl.com/lp5txxc

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