For Pittsburg detective and mother, dangers of a job she loves remain an ever-present concern
PITTSBURG — LaMour Romine, a detective with the Pittsburg Police Department, keeps journals for her daughters — Kember, who will turn two years old next month, and Devryn Scarlett, whom she is expecting in August — in case something were to happen to her in her dangerous line of work.
“I always think, you know, if I was in their position, or if I had lost my mother, what would I have wanted from her?” Romine said in a recent interview.
Romine, the youngest of four children, was born in Kingman, Arizona, where she lived until she was about seven or eight years old. She then lived in Colorado until she was a teenager, and moved to Kansas while in high school.
She later moved to Pittsburg to attend college, eventually graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in psychology from Pittsburg State University in 2010. Since then Romine has been working for the Pittsburg Police Department.
“Just like every job you have your ups and downs through the years, but ultimately there is something about the Pittsburg Police Department where they do make you feel like family, and they do care,” she said.
Romine also earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice, and returned to school in 2014 to earn a master of business administration degree. She aspired to teach criminal justice at the college level, and still does, but the birth of her first daughter meant it will still be some time before she reaches that goal, although that was also something she factored into her plans.
“I felt like LaMour ten years from now would be too tired to go to school to try to get that degree to teach, so I said ‘OK, right now while I’m young and motivated I’m going to get that degree, but for the intention to teach later,’” Romine said.
“Whether it is once I have retired from law enforcement or just as I’ve been seasoned in my career let’s say 20 years in and then go ahead and pick up teaching. Of course having my children be a little bit older would be easier for that too. So I was kind of the future planner for what I was seeing myself doing in the future, not something I thought I was going to do that moment.”
For now, between juggling taking care of her young daughter, having another on the way, and her detective work for the PPD, she has plenty to keep her busy. In 2016 she moved from being a regular police officer working the streets of Pittsburg to focusing on internet crime, and in 2017 officially became a detective specializing in crimes against children, though she works on other kinds of cases as well.
Romine works not only with the Pittsburg Police Department, but frequently with other organizations including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“You might have a suspect who lives in Chicago who just reached multiple girls throughout the U.S. and one of them happened to be in Pittsburg,” Romine explained. “In a way it is rewarding but it’s also emotionally draining in a way because you see all these things happen and you want to help them but you remember ‘OK, this is just my one little part of the whole big picture of what is actually going on in the internet world.’”
Because of her job, and because she is a mother, it can be hard for Romine to not think about worst-case scenarios.
“It’s always on my mind, because people have this misperception that the offender is driving this white van that says ‘free candy’ and snatching kids. That’s not how it works,” Romine said.
“That is such a small percent of the population and that’s not something that’s around here with us being rural. It’s generally your offender is somebody who the kid knows, you know, an acquaintance, a babysitter, an uncle, unfortunately that’s just the way it is and because of that it does bring a lot of sensitivity for me as a mother of two girls to be extra mindful,” she said.
Luckily her children’s father Ryan Donaldson, who works at Eagle Picher Technologies, is understanding of her line of work.
“He doesn’t slough it off because he does know that I see a lot of the dark of the world when it relates to children,” Romine said.
Though she dealt with criminals and dangerous situations working as a police officer earlier in her career, she has gained a new perspective since having children of her own.
“Before I was a mother I think I was less emotionally sensitive to a lot of different things that maybe mothers may deal with with their children and that stuff because it’s just one of those things that you don’t understand until you go through it yourself,” she said.
Romine not only has to spend time thinking about what to some might be unthinkable things that could happen to children, but to herself as well in parts of her job such as serving search warrants.
“The last thing I’d ever want to do is leave my daughters growing up without a mother or them feeling abandoned,” she said.
Because of the dangers of her job, she began keeping journals for her daughters. Topics of Romine’s journals include her own life and what she has gone through “to help them understand me and things that I hope that they would understand as they get older in the event that something does happen to me,” she said.
After working for the PPD for nine years, being a police officer has become an important part of Romine’s identity, but another part is being a mom and caring for her daughters.
“To mesh in both of those worlds, I have no other way to tell them everything I want to tell them, because tomorrow’s not promised to any of us,” she said. “So that is something that I have changed as being a mother is I’m more mindful towards how I want them to see me in the future if I wasn’t here. So I do those journals for them because of those reasons, whereas had I worked a job as a banker or something I may not feel that gravity of mortality, if that makes sense.”
As her daughters get older, Romine plans to explain to them in more detail things that they could not possibly understand now about what her job involves. She hopes eventually her daughters will get the chance to read the journals she has written, not because she can no longer be there to explain her life to them in person, but simply because they will be old enough to grasp what she does.
“Being in law enforcement, it doesn’t take away how hard it is to be a parent or a mother regardless of what job you’re in,” Romine said, although the dangers that first responders and those serving in the military often face on a regular basis present unique challenges when it comes to parenting.
“I just think it’s important to maintain that emotional health and balance,” Romine said “and, you know, cherish every moment that you’ve got when you’ve got it.”