Tall, blonde, slight — and a child health nurse.
While this is not a description most would associate with burley cops of the past, it is increasingly more common for the new wave of WA police.
After 28 weeks of hard training, Constable Stacee Burrows graduated from the police academy last Thursday as one of the force’s brightest young stars.
Crowned the dux of her squad, the 32-year-old was also awarded the professional conduct award for her ethics throughout the recruit training program.
But the impressive achievements are not even close to what sets her apart from her peers.
Const. Burrows is a registered nurse — a passion she turned into an 11-year career before switching out her scrubs for the blue police uniform last year.
She told The West Australian she had been thinking about applying to become a police officer for more than 12 months before she finally took the leap.
“I wanted a new challenge but still wanted to work in and with the community,” she said.
“Nursing is exciting but being on the frontline in that other aspect is a whole new game.”
Const. Burrows is the first to admit she is not a stereotypical cop but she is not going to let that stop her.
“Tall, blonde and skinny. I don’t think that people would associate that with a police officer at all,” she said.
“But there isn’t a mould. Do what you want, not what others might think you should.”
While the prospect of a career switch and starting “from the bottom again” was daunting, it was never going to stop her.
“It was a huge career change. I’d worked my way up in nursing, and then I let go of all that to start from the bottom again,” she said.
“And as a 32-year-old, I thought I may have been too old to join the cops. That was always in the back of my mind, that I was one of the older ones.
“It was scary and it took a lot of guts, but I’m a firm believer that if people want to do something they should just do it.”
Since she was a teenager, Const. Burrows said she had wanted to help people — a passion that stemmed from her own health battles as a child.
“I was born with holes in my heart, so I spent a lot of time in hospital and I used to absolutely hate going to the doctors,” she said.
“Eventually I realised nursing was what I wanted to do.”
Her main focus before turning to policing was immunisation, specifically in increasing the immunisation rate among Aboriginal children.
Her last posting, at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA, saw her travel around the State training local health workers so they could immunise children in their remote Aboriginal communities.
On top of that, Const. Burrows also spent her free time working as a nurse on The Street Doctor truck — a mobile GP clinic that treats homeless, transient and disadvantaged people in Perth.
“With that, we often had the police around us, and seeing what they do sparked my interest and then eventually I applied,” she said.
She believes the cultural awareness, respect and communication skills her career as a nurse helped nurture will be her “X factor” as a new police officer in Perth.
“That will be a big thing. I’ve learned to communicate with all kinds of people, so I think that will be a big asset for me,” she said, adding that the coming months would be a “massive learning curve filled to the brim with new challenges”.