Women in Uniform
from the editor
So, I’m sitting at a table in a small meeting room, armed with just my notebook and
pen. However, I’m surrounded by three tall, strapping and good-looking he-men in
uniform, guns holstered at their hips.
It was my Jessica Rabbit moment. “I’m not bad,” I wanted to say. “I’m only drawn
I’m telling you people, I can’t make this stuff up. This was just another day-at-theoffice
for the Blue Water Woman editor.
It turns out that when you ask to interview a federal officer, the federal government
wants to know what you are going to ask her. So, three male public affairs officers sat
in -- or rather I should say stood in -- on my interview with the very gracious and coolas-a-cucumber
(in a good way) Denise Dupuie, a supervisor with U.S. Customs and
Border Protection, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I noted
how quickly the boys fled the room when the conversation turned to spa visits and nail
This issue is dedicated to “women in uniform”…and I mean all uniforms: Police
officers, firefighters, federal officers, paramedics, and members of all branches of the U.S.
military. Most of them work in an environment that remains predominantly male. I
interviewed three women in uniform for this issue and all
of them have thrived in their work environment and all of
them oozed of care and compassion for the citizens they
encounter in their work life every day.
The truth of the matter is this: I could never in a
million years do what all of them do. The very thought
of getting up for work every morning and understanding
that I was going to work in a potentially very dangerous
environment possibly surrounded by bad guys just scares
the bejeebers out of me.
When I shared that thought with Detective Karen
Brisby of the Port Huron Police Department, she noted
that she isn’t scared of going to work because members
of law enforcement go through a tremendous amount
of training that prepares them for virtually any situation
so that when they encounter a dangerous situation, their
training kicks in and enables them to handle it.
I’m really super-duper glad that makes her (and I’m
editor patti samar with her third place sure all of the officers I talked to) feel better about getting
medal at the end of her first 5K up and going to work in the morning because people
like me -- who are scaredy cats -- need people like them
(Wonder Women, all!) to protect me. Really, I do. I’m not at all ashamed to admit that.
And that is why I have the utmost respect for anyone -- both men and women
-- who gets up every day and puts on a uniform and keeps the world safe from bad
guys (and gals), whether that is on the streets of Port Huron, or in the rugged terrain
of Afghanistan or some other far away land where I just cannot even comprehend the
many dangers encountered on a daily basis.
I am ever so thankful for their service and for the heart and compassion that women
bring to the uniform because, though not all of the women I interviewed said it directly
-- but some did -- women bring a little something more to this kind of public service. In
a good way. And all of us should be grateful for that.
And on an unrelated note: At 50 years of age, I recently ran my very first 5K race. I
offer this not looking for praise, but to help inspire anyone who thinks they cannot do
something based on age, or a perceived lack of physical fitness. I am no cardio queen,
but I managed to trot out the three miles. Shock of all shocks, I won a third place medal
in my age category. I also came in last place in my age category, as only three women
aged 50 to 54 ran. So please, put your fears aside and come give me a run for my money
in an upcoming race. Medal or no medal, the satisfaction of completing it brought tears
to my eyes. Whether it is running or something else, here’s the deal: Face your fears and
just do it. You will be glad you did.
Danielle Quain 5
Denise Dupuie 6
Karen Brisby 8
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volume 4, number 2 summer 2014
Blue Water Woman is published quarterly by The Write Company,
3155 Armour Street, Port Huron, MI 48060. Circulation 7,500.
Editor & Publisher: Patti Samar, owner, The Write Company
Advertising: Patti Samar at 810-987-1256 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Mission: Blue Water Woman is the premiere publication
for women living, working and playing
in the Blue Water Area of Michigan.
Its stories and features are written and designed
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Blue Water Woman
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danielle quain, marysville
Danielle Quain is passionate about helping people.
A police officer for the past 18 years and a road patrol officer for the
Marysville Police Department for the past 12 years, Quain first became
interested in a career in law enforcement while in high school. She
graduated from St. Clair County Community College with a degree
in criminal justice and then attended the police academy prior to
beginning her career.
While in college, she began working at the St. Clair County juvenile
detention center and that began a career-long interest in working
with youth. The first 10 years of her tenure at the Marysville Police
Department were spent working as a juvenile officer.
“I have a big heart for children,” she said. And that is evidenced in
the stories she shares about a wide variety of cases that have touched
her. If she knows of a missing child, she cannot eat and stresses until she
knows a child is home and safe.
“I have always liked kids,” said the wife and mother of two. “Most of
them are fairly innocent. You see kids that don’t have the guidance they
need and they don’t have someone they can go to.” During the time
spent dedicated to youth, Quain knew she was making an impact when
young people approached her to share concerns.
A Big heart
by Patti Samar
Quain started her career in a small town and though she knew there
were opportunities to work in larger cities, she has opted to remain
in a small town where “everybody waves at you. We wave a lot in
Marysville.” She said she likes having the opportunity to stop in and
chat with local business people and see how they are doing and listen to
their concerns about the community.
“I like the small town stuff,” she said. “In a bigger city, it’s just
call after call. Here, it’s nice to be able to do that follow up and see if
everyone is okay. Being in a small community, you know everybody
and you’re involved in a lot of the community events.”
Additionally, as a road patrol officer in a small department, she has
the opportunity to follow through on most of her own cases, whereas in
a larger city, road patrol officers often pass along cases to detectives.
“When we do an investigation, we do it from start to finish,” she
said. “That’s nice because it is interesting and you have some control.”
Quain also noted that in a smaller community, officers are able to
build positive relationships with local municipal leaders. “We know
who our mayor is and our city council and our city manager,” she said.
“They are approachable and it’s nice to see them and be able to talk to
them. They are supportive.”
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denise dupuie, port huron
by Patti Samar
When she was 30 years old, Denise Dupuie, a native of Marysville,
had it all. She had graduated from college following high school
and had earned a degree in criminal justice. She had a supportive
husband, two children and a cahllenging job working for a nonprofit
organization. But she knew, in the back of her mind, that something
She wanted to help people. No, she needed to help people. That
was when she decided it was time to dust off her degree in justice
studies and pursue her lifelong dream. Today, just seven short years
after beginning her career as a federal officer, Dupuie is a supervisor
with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a division of the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security. She is also the commander of the
Detroit Field Office Honor Guard, which presents the U.S. flag at
official and public events and also at the funerals of officers.
“It was a late development in life,” she said, noting that many begin
their careers right out of high school. “I had everything but I was
missing that one thing. I want to help people. I want to protect people.
I have wanted to do that since I was 16. And when I was 30, I said, ‘this
is what I want to do.’”
And by all accounts, Dupuie has done it all exceptionally well. In just
seven years on the job, she has been promoted to supervisor and at any
given time has no less than 30 officers reporting to her.
A key to her success, she noted , is also a part of her life philosophy:
just take every day and every situation as it comes.
“I take everything in perspective,” said Dupuie, who projects an
attentive, thoughtful and calming demeanor. “Are there days that have
a higher stress level? Yes. Are there days that are busier? Yes. But a bad
day? Well, that’s all relative.”
As anyone who lives in the Blue Water Area knows, border protection
is very serious business. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection
agency is charged with evaluating and monitoring the movement
of people and goods across the border. An encounter with any of
the officers at the border will determine whether or not someone
or something is admitted entry into the United States. Officers like
Dupuie are trained to determine whether or not people are deemed
admissible into the country.
While she notes that it is a satisfying experience to identify someone
of interest who may or may not be allowed to proceed into the country,
Dupuie noted: “You don’t know what got them to where they are now.
You treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
And wearing a uniform and carrying a weapon to work each day is
not lost on Dupuie, as is the importance of building strong relationships
with her fellow officers. “When you show up for work each day, you
never know if you are going to need them to save your life that day,”
It is also not lost on Dupuie that, as a female, she is working in a
male-dominated environment, but that doesn’t bother her in the least.
“I think females shouldn’t be intimidated by a predominantly male
occupation,” she said. She noted that the U.S. Customs and Border
Protection is actively recruiting female officers due to a recent decline in
female applicants and there are many career opportunities for women in
Dupuie clearly enjoys what she does for a living and she encourages
other women to find their passion and pursue their goals and dreams
just as she did at 30 years of age. “A lot of people are not content,” she
noted. “There’s always that fear that people have…that they might fail.
Just go for it,“ she said. “It can be that final link in your happiness.”
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karen brisby, port huron
by Patti Samar
If Karen Brisby is anything, she is calm. And on many a work
day, she becomes the calm in the middle of a storm.
As a detective in the Port Huron Police Department, Brisby is
on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week in her role as a member
of the sexual assault response team and as a member of the crisis
But no one should mistake her calm, patient and quiet
demeanor as meaning she is too “soft” for a career in law
enforcement. In fact, she is whip sharp and has a mind for
detail and organization. Those skills are essential in her role as a
detective, where she takes on a caseload that requires her to cross
all of her “t”s and dot all of her “i”s to ensure a solid case that will
eventually lead to the prosecution of a perpetrator.
“It is my job to put the case together for the prosecutor,” said
Brisby. “It’s almost like a story, or a puzzle for the jury so they
can ‘see’ it. You have to help paint a picture for them.”
Brisby, a wife and mother of four, is a graduate of Port Huron
High School and St. Clair County Community College, where
she earned her associates degree in criminal justice. It was while
she was in high school that she knew she wanted a career helping
“I always said I wanted to advocate for kids,” she said. “I got to
do the ride along program with the police department and I got
to see things I had no clue were going on in the city.” She knew
then that law enforcement would hold her interest and so she
pursued that as a career.
She initially served as a road patrol officer and eventually as a
DARE officer. As a detective, she handles cases involving child
abuse, elder abuse and domestic situations.
Through her experience on road patrol, Brisby quickly learned
that her work is as much about building relationships with
people as it is about law enforcement.
“You’re often meeting people in their crisis and you can’t
take anything personally,” she said. “It’s not you, it’s the
uniform. You’ve just got to be a good listener, empathic and
compassionate. People can tell if you’re really concerned.”
Brisby’s ability to desire to help young people eventually helped
her add to her family. While the DARE officer, she connected
with a little girl she met at a presentation and continued building
a relationship with her. Eventually, Brisby brought that child into
her home as a foster child. That foster daughter is now in her
third year of college.
And what helps Brisby get through difficult days and crisis
situations? “My faith has a lot to do with that,” she said. “You
don’t have to pray out loud. I can be looking at someone and be
praying for them in a situation. I wouldn’t be able to do this job
without my faith.”
Brisby noted that every day when she gets ready for work in the
morning, she looks in the mirror and prays, “Lord, let somebody
see you in me today. Because that’s what I like to do.”
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