Blacksburg Sun, December 3, 1975

Woman Officer Finds Advantages


Officer Jan Olinger, first woman officer in Blacksburg. Blacksburg Sun, December 3, 1975

By Jeanne Phillips, Sun Staff Writer

Policewoman of the Week Jan Olinger finds being a female officer has certain advantages. Ms. Olinger explained that people have reservations about approaching a female police officer or picking a fight in her presence.

Ms. Olinger, the first woman on the force, applied for the job on the advice of a friend who said, "You can't lose anything by applying for the job."

"My routine is the same as the guys on the force. If there is a fight, I go to it."

When asked how she liked working with an all-male staff, she responded, "I don't mind at all. There are some officers from the old school that have had trouble adjusting to my being on the force."

She continued that she has had little trouble with the public. Ironically, the most trouble she has had was one time when she was trying to arrest a female.

Patrolwoman Olinger stated that the residents and students in Blacksburg are very cooperative. The largest problem is with students who are unaware of local news.

Ms. Olinger said, "My work gives me a good feeling since I am able to help someone."

She continued that she helped a man find some money in his car that he thought was stolen. "I was glad that something good happened," she said.

Ms. Olinger cited one of the "dumbest" cases she ever worked on as an alleged armed robbery which was in progress.

When the Blacksburg officers accompanied by the VPI & SU security force got to the supposed robbery, the police found that the whole thing was an April Fool's Day joke, even though it occurred on April 2.

The jokers were arrested for feloniously wearing masks, which is a violation of the Virginia Code.

Ms. Olinger said that the favorite part of her job is the public services that she does.

She stated, "One time I helped an elderly woman get home since she had lost her direction. I gain much satisfaction from these experiences."

When asked about the quota system, she responded, "Even though we don't have a quota system, I am against such a system. The academies we attend teach quality, not quantity. Fortunately, our Police Department is open-minded enough to allow personal discretion in issuing traffic violations.

Ms. Olinger agrees that there is flexibility in the written law, since she judges whether someone is issued a warning or a ticket.

As far as the court system is concerned, Ms. Olinger stated, "I definitely believe it could be improved. I spent three hours in court the other day for one case."

Ms. Olinger, a native of Chicago, attended Radford College for three years, majoring in French. Then she applied for the job with the Police Department.

After being accepted for the job, Ms. Olinger attended Shenandoah Police Academy in Weyers Cave.

At this time, she is taking courses in criminal law at New River Community College. She plans to obtain an Associate Degree in police science.

She resides in Blacksburg with her husband, who is a sergeant with the VPI & SU Security.

Ms. Olinger enjoys studying karate and target practicing.