How "Mother's Intuition" Rescued Jaycee Dugard

When kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard's daughters were discovered handing out literature at the University of California campus in Berkeley last month alongside their mother's kidnapper, Phillip Garrido, it was a female security guard who first recognized that there was something unusual about the two "pale and robotic" girls. Abducted 18 years prior, Jaycee now 29, bore him the two children, ages 11 and 15. In a press conference, campus police officer Lisa Campell explained that not only did Garrido seem unstable, but she became suspicious because of the way Jaycee's oldest daughter was staring off into space, so she called in fellow officer Ally Jacobs who agreed. "I'm a mother so police mode turned into mother mode," said Jacobs. The officers contacted Garrido's parole officer and the subsequent investigation lead to the arrest of Garrido on numerous felony charges linked to the kidnapping and rape of Dugard.

But was this a one-off case, or are female police officers encouraged to use mother's instinct? To find more about the unique skills women bring to police work, we spoke with Deborah Friedl, Acting Executive Director of the International Association of Women Police, a 24-year veteran of the Lowell, Massachusetts police force, and a mom.


IVillage: What's your take on the role that mother's intuition played in the Jaycee Dugard case?

Debora Friedl: They followed their intuition--some of it developed through training and experience, some of it natural instincts. There's validity to the idea of "women's intuition." Whether or not women fine tune it, pay attention to it, and respond is the key. Those instincts heighten when they have children.

I think what you saw in the Dugard case was really good police work. Those officers had learned a lot of things over time that enhanced by their ability to listen to their instincts. The first officer probably had concerns that [Phillip Garrido] seemed confused or unstable, and yet had children he was taking care of. Behind the scenes, she contacted another officer to assist her--for safety's sake, and to have another set of eyes and ears. Then they did more background work and found more cause to be concerned. When you've been around the block a lot, you just know when there's more to a story.


Are there certain ways that female officers are able to use their personal experiences on the job?

Absolutely, and in a positive way. Women learn to use the strongest skills they have, which I believe are their communications skills. There are also life experiences that people bring. If you've ever been a victim of a crime yourself, you certainly have more empathy with the challenges a victim faces, for example.

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