Despite already having 17 years on the force, Lt. Col. Amy Dehner said she feels like she is just getting started with the Michigan State Police.
Dehner is the chief deputy director, a position she took right before the pandemic started in 2020.
“This is a great seat to sit in, you get to represent a lot of good people every day,” Dehner said.
She takes being a leader and role model seriously.
“Not only to mentor young women in the department, but the young men as well. And give them a little different perspective so when they get to different leadership seats in their career they understand some of the unique challenges that come with being a woman in law enforcement. But I think, just to give them a greater appreciation for diversity and leadership,” Dehner said.
“It’s so important to have a woman in a command position, and, you know, Lt. Col. Dehner being in that spot, she can do the same thing that the guys do and they know and they respect her for it,” said Lt. Sarah Krebs, an assistant post commander with the Michigan State Police.
For Women’s History Month, Lt. Col. Dehner was asked to write something for Women’s History Month, and decided to write a letter to her younger self. She used the letter to reflect on the lessons she learned that could help other women coming up in the department.
There are many reasons she loves her job, one of them includes her many opportunities with the department. From her first post in Mount Pleasant, as an instructor for the recruit schools where she taught defensive tactics and water safety, working out of their headquarters in Lansing, working in government affairs and on the budget.
She was also involved with recruiting as the equity and inclusion officer and a crisis negotiator with the MSP emergency support team.
Lt. Krebs said seeing women in high-ranking positions like Lt. Col. Dehner is inspirational.
Especially being a small minority in the department to see that other women are aspiring to be at the top,” Krebs said. “I mean it’s going lift all of us and I think even for outside of our agency, other women in law enforcement are seeing that and seeing that we are shattering those glass ceilings.”
“I think what’s important for me and what I want to project is that we’ve got a lot of great women in the MSP, and we’ve got a lot of young women that someday, are going to sit in this seat or in the director’s seat or in a lot of other leadership seats so what I want them to know is, we’ve got a very proud tradition,” Dehner said. “There are so many opportunities for the young women and men in this department that I want them to know even me, with just shy of 17 years in the department, that the sky is the limit. And if you want to do something and if you want to serve there are endless opportunities here in the state police to do it.”
Dehner worked at the MSP Flint post during the water crisis. She was the assistant post commander during the initial stages of the crisis and recalls taking water door-to-door with volunteers.
“We worked for a good portion of that year out of the Emergency Operations Center in Genesee County alongside a lot of great entities, the American Red Cross, the National Guard, the United Way and just kind of looking at policing through a different lens. Instead of the public safety piece, it almost went to more of a humanitarian mission, wherein you know, in the bitter cold Michigan winters, making sure that that people had some way to get water, even if we were delivering in police cars, that was a job that I was honored to be able to be a part of.”
Dehner said they are listening to the community and continuing to make the department more diverse. They are also continuing to connect with the community.
“There’s there is a cultural shift afoot, not just in MSP but in law enforcement in general, and I understand the importance of that, I understand the importance of leading in that effort,” Dehner said.
Dehner says it is no secret it’s a male-dominated profession, however, she wants people to know the mentorship of men in the department has helped her succeed.
“I think looking back on my time then as to where I’ve gotten now, a lot of where I’ve gotten in my career is because of the help and the mentorship of men and I’m grateful for that.”
As she readies for the work ahead, the letter a reminder to her younger self the MSP is the calling and honor of her life. “After nearly 17 years in service to the citizens of Michigan, it’s also the place you will be proud to call your home.”
Michigan State Police Lt. Col. Amy Dehner