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may 2016


the foreign Service journal


olice volunteer? Why on

earth would you want to do


I’d met my fellow retired

ladies for lunch, a monthly

ritual. I was looking for-

ward to telling them I’d

at last found a volunteer

program that excited me. I

hadn’t expected such a skeptical response.

“I thought it sounded interesting,” I said. “I like working with


“Will you be able to make arrests?”

“Will you wear a gun?”

“How will you feel if you have to see a dead body?”

In my career as a consular officer, I’d already seen my share

of dead bodies, but it’s not a fact I talk about at the table with my

lunch buddies.

Since becoming a Raleigh, North Carolina, police volunteer I

haven’t viewed a single corpse, but I’ve had satisfying, respon-

sible, varied assignments. I was drawn to police work because

it offered me a way to keep on watching that endless parade

of human experience that I loved as a consular officer. Most

important of all, to me, is that I’ve been able to continue being a

public servant and use many of the skills I acquired in 28 years

as a Foreign Service officer.

A Natural Transition

Right now, I’m assigned to the Family Violence Intervention

Unit. Every time a patrol officer files a report on what the cops

call “a domestic,” a uniformed officer or detective frommy unit

follows up. Some “domestics” are very serious, leading to com-

plex investigations, arrests for felonies, trials, protection orders

and relocation of victims. They require many hours of the police

officer’s time. Others concern conflicts that may be distressing

to the people involved, but don’t land the participants in the

Police work offered me a way to keep on watching that endless

parade of human experience that I loved as a consular officer.

By Ann B . S i des

Ann B. Sides was a Foreign Service consular officer from 1983 to 2011.

Her overseas assignments included Niamey, Dakar, Oran, Belgrade

(twice), Zagreb, Dublin, Sarajevo and Athens, where she served as consul

general from 2004 to 2008. She is the author of

MaggieMinds Her Busi-


(CreateSpace, 2014), a consular-themedmystery novel set in Africa.


General to Police



On Life after the foreign service