AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some police officers are on a mission not only to protect their community, but also show people around them there’s more to the person behind the uniform.
One officer here in Austin is only about a year into her job with the department and she’s on a mission to show her strength and determination to people across the country.
“I graduated the Academy in October of last year, so I’ve been with the department for about six months including the 8-month Academy,” Officer Katrina Ratcliff says.
Out of 1,773 sworn officers in the department, 170 are female and Officer Ratcliff is one of them.
“I work south of the river all the way out to Del Valle,” Ratcliff said. “I work the evening shift, so I work from afternoon to about 2 o’clock in the morning.”
After the uniform comes off, this woman shifts into a ninja.
“I started out with just a simple two rungs and just doing pull ups on some grip strength items, and it kind of evolved into a ninja gym all of the sudden.”
Off the streets she’s known as NinjaKat, an aspiring American Ninja Warrior. “I’ve been watching the show since it started,” Ratcliff says. “Seventy-seven thousand people apply and about 300 of those were chosen for exclusive interviews, I was one of the 300.”
Officer Ratcliff says you don’t get chosen on ability alone.
“It’s not just people that work out all day and that’s all they do, it’s people that are making an impact in their community that have come from struggles in their life and succeeded,” she says. One of her biggest struggles came when she served in the United States Army.
“I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was a military working dog handler. I got Laky in 2011,” Ratcliff says. “I went to specialize in search dog school and that’s a course where the dog’s single purpose—the only job—is to find explosives.”
She says Laky was her lifeline. “He would go up to about 300 yards away from me and he would alert if there was an explosive and then I would recall him back and we would mark the area.”
Things took a turn when she and her German Shepherd went on a special mission to Afghanistan. “My dog faced PTSD when he got there, he wasn’t able to perform his mission anymore and that affected me because I wasn’t able to do my job without my dog, I can’t find the bombs,” Ratcliff said.
They came back to the US and Laky died within 6 months.
“He kept me alive, I wouldn’t be here without him today,” Ratcliff said. “Even if he couldn’t sniff out bombs, he could put smiles on people’s faces, people who hadn’t smiled in months just because we were over in Afghanistan.”
And now it’s the memory of the friends she lost overseas and her K9 companion that keeps her going.
“They’re what push me in life, don’t be normal, don’t be sedentary, don’t grow up and keep moving — keep laughing, keep making stuff happy and doing things that you wouldn’t normally do.”
Officer Ratcliff could not tell us how far she made it on this season of American Ninja Warrior, but you can look for her when the show season starts over on KXAN on June 12.