Candace Kanavel, a 27-year-old police officer from Tempe, Arizona, is determined to prove women can embrace multiple aspects of their personality and succeed.
Kanavel recently added another accomplishment to her impressive resume that demonstrates her message well: the hostage negotiator traded her duty uniform for an evening gown and was crowned the new Miss Arizona on June 7.
In publicity stills, she looks every inch the beauty queen, with her flowing hair, flawless makeup and a pale green gown.
According to Yahoo News, Kanavel started the #YesSheCan campaign to reach women with her message of confidence and capability.
“Through this campaign,” Kanavel said. “I’ve been able to teach over 200 women skills like self-defense and situational awareness, as these are skills I have training in every day.”
Kanavel also sees her dual roles as a way to connect to the public she serves as a law enforcement officer.
“I think over the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of strain between the community and law enforcement,” Kanavel said. “And I’m hoping that with this title, people can see me, see that I’m a police officer, and just know that all law enforcement have families. They have other hobbies that they’re interested in. I think that’s a great way to connect with our community.”
Kanavel’s police department couldn’t be happier for its officer. The Tempe Police Department posted on Twitter a side-by-side of Kanavel, one in uniform while holding her crown and sash, and one of the moment she won the crown in the pageant.
According to Police Magazine, Kanavel does receive some good-natured ribbing from time to time while on duty regarding pageantry.
“Yes, they do give me a hard time,” Kanavel said of her coworkers, but added she sees them as older brothers.
She also noted that while being a pageant crown holder and a law enforcement officer may seem very different, the core of both roles is remarkably similar. Kanavel cited communication, leadership and a high moral standard as necessary for both.
Kanavel graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and criminal justice in 2018. In April 2019, she first joined the Tempe Police Department as a redaction specialist for body-worn cameras, becoming a sworn law enforcement officer in November 2019.
As she pursued her career, she competed in pageants, entering her first in 2014. Kanavel will compete with other state title holders for the crown in the Miss USA pageant, to be held later this year at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada.