When someone makes comments to Officer Riley McLennan calling her a “sweet little thing” or questions her involvement in law enforcement due to her gender and size, she responds with humor. McLennan knows she is small, but she is driven to help her community as the newest female officer to join the force.
Despite her small stature, McLennan knew she wanted to join law enforcement ever since she was a little girl. McLennan grew up in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and her mom tells stories of McLennan's desire to be a police officer since before she can remember. (Of course at that time she also wanted to be a singer, but that dream dissolved once McLennan realized you had to be good at singing) She also has two older brothers who physically helped her get ready for the career: aka roughhousing.
McLennan has always been active and knew the career would provide her with a variety of experiences. The job is a "different day, every day," McLennan advised. This career choice led McLennan to attend college at The University of Wisconsin - Stout where she studied Criminal Justice, Rehabilitation Services, and Spanish (McLennan is fluent in Spanish.) She was hired by the ECPD as a patrol officer in December 2016.
Once McLennan completed her field training she worked on the afternoon shift responding to hundreds of calls for service while gaining invaluable knowledge from each. This year, McLennan is working on the midnight shift where she is enjoying more unobligated time to conduct self-initiated policing that meets the department’s district initiatives.
In addition to enjoying self-initiated police work, McLennan likes the ability to help victims. This is an element of policing where McLennan feels that being a female gives her an advantage. She has found that many female victims are more comfortable talking to female officers about certain topics. She believes this connection has allowed her to more effectively communicate with victims of domestic abuse, sexual assaults and other sensitive cases whether they have been through it before, or are going through it for the first time. All officers are trained to communicate effectively with the public, but sometimes it’s the inherent tools that set certain officers apart.
As she continues to grow in this profession, McLennan is excited to learn more about the intricacies of the job from a female perspective. This week at the Wisconsin Association of Women Police Conference being held in Eau Claire, she will be able to learn a little bit about this. The conference will bring valuable training and networking connections to the many female officers who will be in attendance. McLennan is looking forward to talking with and learning from the varied experiences of her counterparts from across the state.
McLennan is one of 7 female police officers with ECPD, and one of over 1500 female officers in the state. ECPD is proud to have Officer Riley McLennan on our team!