Alumna Sarah Shendy, ’06, Named First Director of Ohio Office of Law Enforcement and Recruitment

In 2020, Sarah Shendy, ’06, became the first Director, Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment. Sarah worked hard to achieve this prestigious position, but had it not been for Kent State University, she may have never gone into law enforcement.

“After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in justice studies, (now former) Kent State criminal justice Professor and police academy Commander, James Owens, told me I would make a great officer,” Sarah said. “I made the decision to join the academy, fell in love with law enforcement and since then my life has never been the same.”

Sarah’s decision to attend Kent State and major in Criminal Justice was much simpler.

“We’re a Kent State family,” Sarah said. “There are five kids in my family and four of us graduated from Kent State. I always admired the subject of criminal justice and had an interest in why people do what they do. Being born in the Middle East and living there until the age of seven, I also find it interesting to see the differences in how countries operate and how they handle crime and punishment.”

While a student, Sarah joined different campus organizations. These groups not only helped her feel connected to the university community, but also helped expand her understanding of the world, which in turn helps her in her career. One of those was the Muslim Student Association (MSA).

“My sisters and I were members of the MSA,” Sarah said. “It definitely helped us meet diverse groups of students on campus. I met students from Sudan, India, Pakistan and Algeria. I still keep in touch with some of them today. We also had dinners and activities with other religious groups on campus and it helped increase our awareness and knowledge about other religions and cultures.”
Sarah Shendy, '06, with sister Fatima Shendy (a two-time graduate of Kent State), and nieces Yazzie and Kenzie

Sarah feels her time at Kent State also prepared her for where she is today.

“I had the best professors and advisors. They had real life experience, were both knowledgeable and passionate about criminal justice and I knew they cared. They believed in me and pushed me to reach my full potential.”

When she found out she had been appointed by Governor DeWine as director, Sarah was overwhelmed.

“I do not have words in either languages I speak to describe how thankful, grateful and humbled I am to be in this position,” Sarah said. “I take my role to heart because I love and care about our profession and the men and women in uniform across the state and country.”

The Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment has two major goals. The first is to educate the public on the policing profession and the second is to assist law enforcement agencies in recruiting, hiring and retaining qualified candidates. Sarah herself has a clear goal as well.

“As director, I want to do all I can to ensure Ohio leads the nation in recruiting and hiring best practices.

“I’m a resource to all Ohio law enforcement agencies and am willing and eager to help with whatever they need,” Sarah said. “Whether it’s talking to a group of high school students, speaking to a criminal justice college class, or presenting at the local mosque or church, these discussions are important. If we properly educate people on what we do as police officers and why we love this job so much, I feel it will improve our recruitment efforts.

“I consider myself one of the luckiest people I know because I am in love with my job as a police officer and as a recruiter,” Sarah continued. “I feel blessed to work with communities across the state and tell them how amazing law enforcement is and why they should join our family.”

With an emphasis on recruiting women and minorities, Sarah makes an effort to encourage those populations to consider the profession.

“A lot of us may shy away from doing things that make us stand out or feel different. However, in law enforcement, our differences are what make us an asset to our departments and our communities,” Sarah said. “With a diverse group of officers, we will have so much talent and cultural knowledge in our police departments; it would be a huge benefit to our communities.”

She also does her best to boost good community relations.

“I want people to get to know the officers that serve their community and realize we’re there for them and their families; we are there to serve them and protect what matters most,” Sarah said. “There are 900,000 officers in the United States, and we will continue to show up 24/7/365 because to us, you matter the most.”

To anyone who may have considered becoming a police officer, and even to those who never have, Sarah offered some things to consider.

Sarah Shendy, ’06, Director, Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment
“If you want to become a change agent in your community; if you want to advocate for vulnerable populations and speak on behalf of those that cannot speak for themselves; if you feel your calling is to help others rise, heal and move past trauma… then your calling is law enforcement,” Sarah said. “We’re in the business of saving and changing lives, and nothing beats that.”

While Sarah’s career has allowed her to work in many communities throughout Ohio, she stays connected to Kent State in both her personal and professional life.

“When I speak to young men and women about attending college or the police academy, I always recommend Kent State,” Sarah said. “I love how the campus is structured, the presence of campus police, the Rec Center, the Field House, the football games and the whole culture in that city. Although I graduated a while ago, I sometimes still go back to run on campus and walk the new downtown area. When I was in the police academy, I would park at the Schwartz Center and run to Dix Stadium and back. More than 14 years later, I still love to do that.”

To learn more about the criminology and justice studies program at Kent State, visit www.kent.edu/sociology/criminology-justice-studies-undergraduate-program.

(Photos courtesy of Sarah Shendy.)

POSTED: Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - 12:37pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 12:46pm
WRITTEN BY:
Stephanie Langguth