The Jaw-Dropping Journey of a Police Officer Turned Beauty Queen!

Officer Candace Kanavel of the Tempe Police Department in Arizona made history as the first member of law enforcement to compete in the Miss USA pageant. A 27-year-old Japanese American, Kanavel, who works as a SWAT hostage negotiator and is trained in crisis intervention, was crowned Miss Arizona in May, marking the convergence of her roles as a law enforcement officer and a beauty queen.

Kanavel sees a common thread between her two seemingly disparate roles. “When I’m in my police uniform, I’m empowered to help people. And when I’m in my sash and crown, I’m empowered to help people,” she explained. “And so I’m doing the same job, just in a different uniform.”

Beyond her law enforcement duties and pageant pursuits, Kanavel dedicates her time to inspiring others. She engages with middle school students, discussing career choices and confidence, and has launched the “Yes She CAN” movement. This initiative aims to encourage women of all ages to embrace confidence, trust their abilities, and consider non-traditional careers.

Motivated by her personal experiences, Kanavel expressed, “I know that happens to so many women, especially being in my line of work as a police officer. I think people see femininity as weakness, and it’s not.” Her commitment to breaking stereotypes extends to her role as Miss Arizona, where she hopes to attract more women to law enforcement.

With the “Yes She CAN” campaign, Kanavel wants to challenge preconceptions about women’s capabilities. She believes her presence in the Miss USA pageant, coupled with her role in law enforcement, will send a powerful message to young girls: “You can do any career and be anything you want to be. You can be all of the things you want to be.”


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Drawing parallels between her pageant preparation and her crisis intervention skills, Kanavel sees a unique connection. “Talking to the judges is a little bit of a negotiation. You’re trying to tell them about yourself and really have those personal connections with them, and that’s exactly what we try to do as hostage negotiators.”

Though the crown went to Miss Utah Noelia Voigt, the first Venezuelan-American to earn the title, Kanavel will continue to pave the way for women in law enforcement, challenging stereotypes and inspiring a generation to break barriers.



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