Years ago, had you asked Sarah Trieu if she was going to be a police motorcycle officer she would have laughed.
But things have changed for her since she joined the Peoria Police Department eight years ago.
“Younger me never wanted to be a motor,” she said. “Working in the heat did not sound appealing, being on a motorcycle was dangerous and terrifying, and specializing in traffic enforcement and DUI enforcement was probably my biggest weakness when I was younger.”
But now that weakness has become a strength — in August of 2022, she became the department’s first female motor officer.
She said she is incredibly honored and proud to be the first female motor in Peoria.
“Accomplishing motor school has become my biggest achievement by far and I am incredibly proud to be able to represent females in a male dominated specialty,” she said. “I can only hope to lead by example and inspire other females to pursue motors.”
For her service to the greater community Trieu has been named a Peoria Independent Hometown Hero.
The Hometown Heroes Awards are a celebration of individuals who live, work or teach in the city, and Peoria businesses for their achievements and distinguished contributions to the community and beyond.
Trieu will be honored at an awards luncheon next year. The third annual Hometown Heroes luncheon will honor those nominated in 2023.
Motor officers are a specialty unit within the traffic services unit of the Peoria Police Department, made up of eight officers and one sergeant.
Sgt. Ricardo Acevedo said the primary role of a motor officer is traffic safety, education, and traffic enforcement.
Motor officers represent a small percentage of the departments nationwide — only about 2% of the police profession are motors and 0.2% are women, he said.
“She is a very productive member of the unit and she works hard,” Acevedo said.
Growing up, Trieu knew that college was not for her, but she wanted to jump straight into working.
So she pursued firefighting and obtained EMT certification in 2013. Then her brother-in-law, who works for the Peoria Police Department, suggested she test for a recruit opening and see where it took her. She tested in February of 2015 and was selected among four recruits to go to the academy.
On the other hand, motorcycles were a whole other matter.
Before becoming a motor cop, she had never touched a bike in her life.
But she said as she became more mature as she progressed thorugh the years, her perspective on motorcycles changed and she developed a sense of appreciation for Peoria’s traffic unit.
“Motor officers are seen as some of the best officers we have. I knew that I wanted to better myself and set out to challenge myself to get better at doing DUI investigations. Next thing I knew, the motor officers were suggesting I test for the unit,” she said. “It has been history ever since. And honestly, pursing law enforcement was the best decision I ever made. I love this profession and have never been more passionate in serving a community I love and fulfilling my sense of calling."
Get to know Trieu here.
Philip Haldiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman. We’d like to invite our readers to submit their civil comments, pro or con, on this issue. Email AZOpinions@iniusa.org.