POSTED: Thursday, July 17, 2014 - 10:29pm
UPDATED: Friday, July 25, 2014 - 7:58am
Longview, Tx (KETK) — They're tough, they're strong, they're armed, they're women..and Rusk County Sheriff Jeff Price say they're a crucial part of his department.
"I have never seen any of my females back down from a situation, they've always been right there in the middle..with the male officers."
Women are vastly underrepresented in law enforcement, making up just 12 percent of the total law enforcement population. Female Rusk County Deputy Rosa Chavez says being a woman in law enforcement has its challenges.
"Working here in the jail, especially my height, my size..people kind of want to take advantage of that."
Mounted Patrol Officer Denna Brightwell agrees there are challenges, but women also have an advantage over men in some aspects.
" I realize I can't do the same job a man can do..but there are things I can bring to a table that a man can't."
Brightwell says what these female officers may lack in size, they make up for in heart.
"You don't mind bringing that mother card to the table..if it works, it works."
Chavez says it's surprising how many inmates look to her instead of her male colleagues for consolation.
"Growing up, the first person you would go to would be your mother..because you find more protection..and so I guess they find that here as well when it comes to officers."
Brightwell says the compassion and motherly instincts that many female officers display are what make women a crucial part of law enforcement.
" A woman would be more compassionate..and people can see that..especially in a crisis situation."
Sheriff Price agrees.
"When you're dealing with a victim of a rape..they're not gonna want to talk to a male officer..but they'll talk to a female officer..children from domestic violence are not as likely to go towards a male officer as they would a female officer..so there are certain instances to where a female is a very good asset to have on a scene."
Brightwell says women officers check their egos at the door.
"If you've got a man that walks in..especially in a situation with another man..you've got male hormones..male ego going both ways..a lot of the times women will keep their voices calm..and stay calm..and it will de-escalate a situation."
Longview Police Department Public Information Officer Kristie Brian says women bring a fresh perspective to the force.
"We all handle calls differently whether you're a male or female..but being a female..you look at things a lot differently than males."
The Longview Police Department has 17 female officers, a number that Brian says continues to grow.
In May, Laura Samples became the first female lieutenant in department history.
"It feels great, I think being the first anything..anyone would be excited about..but being the first female lieutenant..it's fantastic."
Brian says active recruitment of women officers is a top priority at the Longview Police Department, just like it is with all East Texas law enforcement agencies.
"Follow your dreams..if that's what you want to do..then follow your dreams..and do it..I don't think there's any reason why females can't be just as good as males in law enforcement."