Hostage negotiator makes history as first law enforcement officer to compete in Miss USA pageant

When the Miss USA contestants walk out onto the stage September 29, history will be made as the first law enforcement officer competes for the top prize at the pageant.

Candace Kanavel, the self-proclaimed beauty queen by day and police officer by night, will represent Arizona, Friday, according to a press release from the Tempe Police Department.

Hostage negotiator to Miss Arizona USA

While at the surface the two jobs appear nothing alike, Kanavel says they’re actually very similar.

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The 27-year-old, who works as a hostage negotiator on the SWAT team, has said the skills she learned to become an officer have come in handy when competing in pageants.

“A lot of the qualities that I have to have as an officer translate directly to my role as Miss Arizona USA and vice versa. 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 told KNXV.

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Helping women feel powerful and confident is all part of her platform.

“When I’m in my police uniform, I’m empowered to help people,” Officer Kanavel said. “And when I’m in my sash and crown, I’m empowered to help people. And so I’m doing the same job, just in a different uniform.” 

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Kanavel founded Yes She Can, an initiative focused on confidence and capability.

“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,” she 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.”

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“I want to give people who aren’t in law enforcement a little insight into what officers are like,” Kanavel said. “We have hobbies, we have families, we have all these different things outside of what we do for a living.” 

If you enjoyed this story, make sure you check out these police officers who came to the rescue of a 92-year-old WWII veteran.


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It’s awesome to see a law enforcement officer represented in the Miss USA pageant! We’ll be cheering her on.

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