Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Justice alumni spotlight: Officer Hannah (Scott) Ostrom, BA Justice ’12

Officer Hannah (Scott) Ostrom
Officer Hannah (Scott) Ostrom, BA Justice ’12, recently celebrated her first anniversary with the Anchorage Police Department (APD).  Hannah has always been interested in law enforcement and in the military.  When looking at a future career, she was not sure which law enforcement entity she wanted to join. But a friend helped her get permission to do a ride-along with APD and she discovered things were very different than what she had expected – and she liked the challenges and variety she saw. Her courses in the Justice Center often used statistics from APD and she felt like she got to know a lot about how that law enforcement agency works.  So when the time seemed right, Hannah applied to APD and was hired.

Hannah came to Alaska from Connecticut about seven years ago – she wanted to go “out West” where there were more job opportunities. At UAA, she first majored in Business then switched to Justice.  That made more sense because she was interested in working in federal law enforcement.  The toll that drugs take on individuals and the community is a big focus for Hannah, and she wanted to be part of the solution to that problem.

APD Officer Hannah (Scott) Ostrom by her patrol car.
Before joining APD, Hannah worked for a private security firm that assisted state agencies in transporting prisoners, as well as transports under Title 47.  Dr. Marny Rivera’s course in biobehavioral criminology really helped prepare her for dealing successfully with persons suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues – and she recommends that course for anyone going into law enforcement.  Hannah credits her coursework at the Justice Center for giving her an overview of crime and the justice system, and a good context for what police work entails.  She especially enjoyed her senior year capstone class with Dr. Ron Everett. The assigned readings took a lot of time but they covered a multitude of topics including sentencing, DNA testing and exoneration of innocent persons convicted for crimes, and financial crime and impacts. “The books were good reads. I gained more from that class than from anything. It was hard, but worth it.”

Her next step after being hired by APD was the APD Police Academy here in Anchorage– a rigorous program that includes report writing, criminal law classes, overview of different police units, pistol/rifle/shotgun practice, defensive tactics, and scenarios requiring application of the skills learned.  There were initially three women in Hannah’s class, but ultimately Hannah was one of only two women who made it through the program.  After graduation, Hannah began additional training with APD – a process that is ongoing for all police officers.

For the first few months, Hannah did field training observation with several training officers.  Now, after one year on the job, she is in a patrol car on her own.  She remarks that even though many women may be of smaller stature than men, they can be just as effective in police work – and that women are taught how to have a “command presence,” among other strategies.  She loves her job and especially appreciates that APD has so many opportunities for furthering her career in law enforcement.

One thing that is apparent when talking to Hannah is the amount of gear she is wearing.  All officers wear about 40 pounds of gear including, but not limited to, a gun, ammunition, a radio, and handcuffs. There are internal and external vests. The vests themselves are not light-weight and are made of bullet-proof materials.  Female officers have belts designed for their body type, but Hannah notes that no matter what, every officer – male and female - feels the heavy weight of their gear. “Body work,” she grins, “is a requirement for keeping muscles pain-free and in shape – whether it’s massage, chiropractic, or yoga. When I first started, I was told I would need body work, but I thought, not me – I’m young and in good shape. Well, I was wrong.”

When she is not keeping the streets of Anchorage safe, Hannah enjoys mixed martial arts and competes on the state and national level in Brazilian jujitsu.  She was state champion in her division for two years. And she is also a Pilates instructor.  Her job requires her to be in good condition, but she also notes, “I hate the winter.  That’s why I do indoor sport.”  Hannah likes keeping a balance of work and other activities, and stresses the benefit of both the camaraderie of fellow officers, as well as that of friends who are outside the field of police work. And what does the future hold?  Ultimately, Hannah would like to work in SWAT or in vice.  In the meantime Officer Ostrom is enjoying the opportunity to respond to a variety of situations in her daily job with APD.