A potent patch of “girl power” has sprouted up among the mountain biking trails and stunning fall foliage of Vancouver, Wash., this fall, thanks to one little girl’s Halloween shopping trip.
It all started when 4-year-old Kinley Goertler and her mother, Chelsy, went to the store to hunt for a costume for Kinley.
As any spirited child might, Kinley eagerly picked out her holiday wear: a police SWAT uniform.
While in the checkout line, Kinley noticed though something that would spark an empowering and viral movement. The package indicated the costume was for boys.
Though frustrated by the gender-specific label, Chelsy purchased the uniform for her daughter.
She then took to Facebook to vent.
“I was upset that she was upset,” Chelsy said. “Just because there’s a boy on it doesn’t mean a girl can’t wear it, because there are [female] cops, too.”
Chelsy told TODAY.com she began receiving messages – even official uniform patches – from all 50 states and five countries in support of her daughter.
One of the first messages she received was from the Portland Police Bureau in Oregon.
It was a picture of female officers holding a sign that read, “Kinley, girl cops are awesome!”
The hashtag #girlcopsareawesome also became an instant hit on social media.
When Lieutenant Scott Creager of the Vancouver Police Department heard about Kinley’s story, he felt compelled to reach out.
Creager invited Kinley and her mother to the precinct to show the little crime fighter fan that women can make capable cops, just like men.
Then came another idea — an even bigger one.
Creager and the mother-daughter duo organized a community-wide event for other girls like Kinley, opening the doors to nearly 200 people.
Both male and female officers were on-hand to discuss careers in law enforcement.
“I think it’s great that this mom from our community took what started as a disappointment for her little girl and worked with law enforcement officers to turn it into an opportunity to share the message of our current officers and connect with hopefully future officers,” Creager said.
The lieutenant told TODAY.com that Vancouver police plan on making it an annual event to honor female officers and future officers.
Chelsy is also petitioning Apple to create a female police officer emoji for its devices because, currently, there is only a male officer emoji.