Women Thriving in Male-Dominated Fields: Patrol Officer

With recent focus on women's rights issues like equal pay in the work place, we're taking a look at male dominated fields and the women that thrive in them. This month, Connie Gonzalez will introduce us to four San Angelo women, and show us a day in their lives.

We often hear the phrase it's a "Man's World" and although women make up more than half the nation's population, many professions like law enforcement are male-dominated.

We put the spotlight on one female San Angelo Patrol Officer and got a sense of what a day in her shoes can lead to.

There are 15 female officers on San Angelo's Police force out of a total of 163 officers. Caroline Jackson is among that group of women that work in what can sometimes be "a man's world".

Lt. Mike Hernandez says Jackson is an aggressive and hands on type officer.

"She's actually got a reputation on the street as far as being a pit bull, and so I think that's awesome that these officers recognize that they can count on her," Hernandez said.

In the four years Jackson has been on the force, she's worked primarily over night shifts. She says she sometimes experiences gender discrimination out in the field, but doesn't let it affect her professionally.

"I'll tell them something and they don't believe me, and so you'll get a male [officer] out there. [The male officer will] say the exact same thing, the exact same way I said it and all of a sudden they understand. It just comes with the job, there's nothing I can do to control it," Jackson said.

All 15 women on the force are Patrol Officers; Jackson plans to join the special operations unit, and hopes to work in narcotics.

"This is where I live not, this is my home. You got to make a difference in the community, and I want to be that positive influence for the younger generation," Jackson said.

Being a police officer is a physically and mentally demanding profession. During training, Jackson was tased and pepper-sprayed, but there is one thing she would prefer to avoid.

"Nobody ever told me I had to touch people. Everyday is laundry day," Jackson said.

Getting physical is definitely part of the job; this five-foot officer recalls one challenging chase.

"He got a good hit on me and started to run and I just ran after him and tackled him; so you just got to step up to the plate," Jackson said.

Hernandez says Jackson has earned the respect of her colleagues.

"She is willing to do more than the average officer, and that's the kind of officers you want. You want the officers you have to keep a choke collar if you will on, but that are aggressive and are going to get the job done," Hernandez said.

At just nine-percent, San Angelo's Police force falls below the 13 percent state average of female officers. Hernandez says it's not an easy position for anyone to occupy.

"Because law enforcement is a male-dominated profession it is harder for a female officer to be recognized just because those officers are looking for somebody to get in the fight with them, and so they have to build their reputation," Hernandez said.

We wanted to thank Officer Jackson for allowing us to "ride along" with her this weekend.

Next week, we visit with another woman who succeeds in her field; a local professional bodybuilder who was ranked top five in the world.

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