By Jessica Easthope
Stephenie Clark says her mom Eileen was protecting and serving, long before she joined the NYPD.
“It was unusual back then to have a mother working, so it was nice that she wanted to be able to help support the household, move out to the suburbs. She wanted to be able to have a career that was different and forward for women back then,” said Stephenie.
Eileen Clark joined the NYPD in 1969 when the department was only two percent women. She was among the first group of women to go out on patrol in 1972.
“I remember her waiting to get on, I remember her talking about the physical exam but back then women were only brought on every four years,” Stephanie said.
Then in 1987, Stephenie followed in her mom’s footsteps, joining the force and having a career her mom paved the way for.
“She made it easy to do because she had done it. It was nice to say I was a second generation female member of the service, I did really like saying that,” she said.
Stephenie retired in 2013 after 26 years on the job. Though her career mirrored her mom’s, the path life and NYPD took them down was different.
“We were never the same rank, she was a policewoman and a detective and I was a police officer, a sergeant and a lieutenant,” Stephanie told Currents News.
Stephenie was the second woman in the NYPD to ever be part of a promotion class while pregnant. She said her mom made Catholic values part of her job as an officer.
“Anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, her Catholic upbringing brought her into this life also, just wanting to help people and she knew she could,” Stephanie said.
And those same values became her own.
“I think I always try to not judge people, be careful how I’m treating people, to be true to my faith. It’s not hard to do when you’re able to help people,” she explained.
Eileen passed away of cancer at 51, just shy of Stephanie’s 20th anniversary on the job.
“I remember my dad called and he said, ‘Your mother would have been so proud,’ and I know she would have been. All the units that I went to, I wish she would have been there, but she was there,” said Stephenie.
Stephenie says her mom is a trailblazer, not only for women on the force but for all officers who join the NYPD to help others.