The first police officer to compete for Miss USA will represent Arizona on Friday.
Miss Arizona USA Candace Kanavel is also an officer with the Tempe Police Department, working as a hostage negotiator on the SWAT team.
Kanavel contends that her work as an officer has prepared her for her role as Miss Arizona USA.
"I have to be a really good communicator. I have to be a leader. I have to be able to be flexible with whatever's going on and work through different situations," she said.
Defying stereotypes, while helping other women feel strong, safe and confident is all part of her platform, including her social media campaign "Yes She Can."
"I started 'Yes She Can' because of my own story, but also feeling like people constantly look at me as a very feminine woman and discount what I may be capable of,” Kanavel said. “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.”
A self-proclaimed advocate for change, Kanaval is also focused on bridging the gap between law enforcement and the community.
"I want to give people who aren't in law enforcement a little insight into what officers are like,” she said. “We have hobbies, we have families, we have all these different things outside of what we do for a living."
Kanavel will go up against 50 other women on Friday. The woman crowned Miss USA will represent the U.S at the Miss Universe pageant.
This story was originally published by Kaley O'Kelley at Scripps News Phoenix.
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