Mary Kincheloe vividly remembers her first experience with the police. She was 9 years old, scared and living in an unsafe home. The police officers who came to her school to get her that day probably didn’t know how much of a difference they were making. But Mary knew. She spent the rest of her childhood in foster care and never forgot how safe those officers made her feel. She grew up wanting to make others feel safe, too.
Mary is now an 18-year veteran of the Kansas City Police Department. She started as a patrol officer and spent a little over four years assigned to the East Patrol Division. In 2008, she became a Detective and has worked in the Special Victim’s Unit, the Cold Case Unit, and the Hostage Negotiator Team. She’s currently assigned to the Homicide Unit. All tough assignments. All about seeking justice for those impacted by crime and keeping them safe.
She’s seen a lot in her life and career; she’s been successful.
“On the outside, I’d checked all the boxes: college, social worker, police officer, married with a child; I thought that was success because I didn’t end up the way some expected,” Mary said, referencing the assumptions some make about kids who grow up in foster care.
She was getting through life. She had a meaningful career. A family. She didn’t know anything was wrong.
But she started feeling angry. And she found she was angry about things that shouldn’t have made her that angry. First at work, then at home. Relationships suffered, and she described having “hard reactions” to things.
“I could blame it on the dishes in the sink or the laundry piling up, but it was coming from someplace else,” she explained.
Mary heard about The Battle Within from a colleague, an organization committed to the long-term healing of first responders, military and others who spend their lives in service for others.
She watched a testimonial video online and identified with the feelings and struggles described in the video. She connected with the effects described about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and thought about applying for the program.
“My mind bounced between not being worthy of the opportunity, and the presumptive dread that came with the notion it might not work for me,” she recalled thinking as she finally hit send on the application.
She now knows that anger was the result of trauma she had been carrying for a very long time.
“I didn’t have tools to heal. All I’d ever had was survival techniques,” she said.
Mary had learned how to survive at an early age. But she had never learned how to cope with those buried emotions – or to heal – until her time with The Battle Within.
“It brought me to life,” she explained.
As a result of her experience, Mary now volunteers for The Battle Within, helping women currently dealing with PTSD and suicidal thoughts. Giving them the tools to cope with the trauma of being in danger. Working to help them feel safe.
Because of her work as a dedicated police officer, her volunteer work to help others, and her willingness to break down stigmas by sharing her story, Blue KC is proud to partner with the Kansas City Royals to honor Mary Kincheloe as a Hometown Hero.