Ridgway Marshal, November 15, 2017
Story by Kathryn R. Burke
Tammy Cares—those two words sum up this unique woman and perfectly describe her personal and professional worldview. Marshall Stroup’s door, like her mind, is always open. “If you come in here,” Tammy says, “you will be heard. And you will be treated with respect.”
Respect and compassion. Those are this marshall’s watchwords. Tammy is a compassionate woman—which makes her particularly effective in law enforcement.
Tammy’s journey into compassion began as a child. She grew up in Montrose, Colorado, where she spent a lot of time on her grandparents’ sheep farm. Many of us who live here know her grandmother, LaVonne (Blondie) Campbell, a lifelong sheep rancher and still very active in the Wool Growers Association here. From her grandmother, who she calls her ‘lifelong mentor,’ Tammy learned to love and respect animals—and people.
Tammy studied biology in college, planning to go into veterinary medicine, but an incident when she was a young mother, living with her law-enforcement husband in Glenwood, changed her course. She witnessed a domestic incident where the (victim?) woman was disrespectfully and harshly treated by the responding officers, resulting in personal injury. “It didn’t have to be that way,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what your cultural or economic background, it doesn’t matter if you are a victim or the victimizer, accused or accuser, you deserve to be treated with respect.”
She cited a recent experience demonstrating how that works. She was working at the District Attorney’s Office and called out to contact a man who she suspected had a warrant. “I ran him before contacting him,” she said. “And he did have a felony warrant. I called in for help (since I didn’t have a cage in my car), but was told there was ‘no one available to respond.’” (Another example of the difficulty female law-enforcement personnel face in a male-dominated profession.) Tammy approached the man, who had children in the house, and very respectfully asked for his cooperation, so as not to disturb his family. He complied. “He got in his own car and followed me to Montrose County Jail, where I was able to pat him down and book him.” Much to the consternation of those who thought she couldn’t handle the situation without appropriate backup. “One thing I’ve learned, like many other women in my profession, is that we have to work a little harder to prove ourselves. Being female in this kind of work can be excruciating.”
But it can also be rewarding. “I truly love law enforcement,” Tammy said. “It gives me a chance to help people, and that’s who I am, what I’m about. I love to help people.” Along the way, she mastered compassion as part of “learning not to be judgmental. You need to reach out to people, let them know you are there to help.”
After a death in the family, Tammy returned to Montrose with her two daughters: Kelsey, now 18 and with Western Colorado Regional Dispatch Center (WESTCO), and Hailey, a budding businesswoman. Tammy worked as an investigator with the District Attorney’s office in the 7th Judicial District (San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose, Delta, Hinsdale, and Gunnison counties), where she was an investigator. “I worked all kinds of cases,” she said, “from homicide to domestic abuse to various other kinds of crime.” She was there just shy of 10 years, rapidly rising to the position of Chief Investigator.
Tammy also put in some time (after leaving the DA’s office) with the Dolphin House, that helps children in distress or compromise. That, too, arose from compassion, and a desire “to do the right thing for people.” While working on the front range, she was involved in a child abuse case, where “a grandfather was given custody of an 18-month- old child after the divorced mother’s new husband beat the child causing brain injury.” Sadly, the child was returned to his mother after she and her husband went through parenting counseling. Within a few months, the child was back in the hospital with a fatal brain injury, caused by the stepdad. Tammy sat with that grandpa through the subsequent trial, and cried with him, helping him understand and accept that it was not his fault that the boy died. Compassion is a big part of police work, and Tammy takes that to heart.
She also takes her family to heart. Her husband, Billie Stroup, is a Sergeant in the Montrose PD. Both her daughters are doing well and living in Montrose. Grandma Blondie is nearby, and as big an influence today on Tammy’s 7-year-old son, Gage, as she was when Tammy was that same age. “They are my life,” she says simply. That life also includes two dogs, a German Shepherd named Marley and a lab called Koda. What goes around…
So, Tammy’s journey from a Montrose County sheep ranch to a marshall in Ridgway, Colorado is a natural progression. She’s been heading there since she was her son’s age. Tammy’s doing what she loves, and doing it with care and compassion. The sign on her office wall says: “Do what is right; not what is easy.” Tammy does it right.
Meet Tammy and learn more about her experiences and exploits as a female law enforcement officer Wednesday, November 15th, at the Woman’s Club of Ouray’s monthly meeting, when we explore ‘Uncommon Women, Uncommon Lives.’
WCOC Monthly meetings are held from 1-3 pm on the third Tuesday every month in the San Juan Room of the Ouray Community Center. (Our November meeting is being held a week early and on a Wednesday, instead of Tuesday, due to the Thanksgiving holiday and scheduling conflicts with the Ouray Community Center. Regular meetings resume on third Tuesday again in December.) Regular meetings usually feature ‘Uncommon Women, Uncommon Lives’ with guest speakers who have interesting and unusual occupations for a woman. The public is welcome. Click here to view the list of past and future guest speakers.
Following the guest presentation, guests and members enjoy a social time with refreshments and an opportunity to view various projects and sign up for committee activities. The regular membership meeting follows, which addresses upcoming events and activities, shares “Cares and Concerns” with members, and reviews other membership business.