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Balancing Act: Mom cops

Move over Jon & Kate, let The Police Women of Broward County show you how real women raise kids -- and work.

Smack in the middle of the debate about whether it is possible for women to have it all comes TLC's new series that sets out to capture the reality of women in law enforcement. It follows the lives of four ordinary women who alternately shuttle kids to school and, by the way, bust up drug rings.

When I previewed the new reality show, what surprised me most was that these women who shackle criminals and mediate violent domestic disputes for a living confront issues at home with their kids that are very familiar to any working mom.

During the episode, 26-year-old Andrea Penoyer takes a call from her son but has to cut him off to bust into a crack house.

"Being a mom and a cop, those are both big jobs,'' she says.

Penoyer keeps her cool when she finds herself outnumbered in the crack house. Assigned to the street crimes unit, Penoyer stays fit through exercise and tells viewers she needs to be "better than the best bad guy.'' At home, the single mom relies on coffee to keep her awake while her son does his homework.

These real-life Wonder Women are serving as role models at a time when the first black female CEO has just made the Fortune 500 list; Washington, D.C. has named its first female police chief, and Michelle Obama is advocating for the rights of working mothers. Despite all this,women are still getting mixed messages, with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch creating a national furor by telling women they can't have it all.

Welch recently told an organization of human resource professionals that there is no such thing as work-life balance, just "work-life choices, and you make them and they have consequences.'' Welch said women frequently don't land that corner office because they opt out of an intense career to live a life that has some kind of balance between work and family.

Yet these Broward County officers are proving that women can succeed in a profession that is inherently risky and dominated by men. Four women -- Penoyer, Ana Murillo, Julie Bower and Shelunda Cooper -- show America that each day they perform the same balancing act as most working women. One that the male officers in Cops did not have to master.

As viewers follow the action, they also get glimpses into the officers' more routine personal lives.

Bower, 48 and divorced, has three sons and works in the sex crimes unit. Murillo, 29, is married with a 2-year-old son and goes on stakeouts. Cooper, 25, is newly married to a fellow officer, works nights and has a twin sister on the force.

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