Capt. Brigette Charles
However, after watching my brother who is a Major at a Sheriffs office and a cousin who is a Lieutenant in a municipal police department prepare for their shift and subsequently always return home safely at the end of each shift, I became more intrigued with the career. Learning that law school was quite expensive for my part-time wage, I ventured and took the civil service test to become a Toledo police officer. Upon successful passing and beginning the steps for a thorough background investigation, I received a phone call from the local OSHP Post Commander. He inquired if I had given the Ohio State Highway Patrol any consideration. I quickly asked if he knew how tall I was and my weight. He quoted my correct height and a little heavier weight and I explained that it was the summer season and I had trimmed down a few pounds. He chuckled and continued to give me the date for the next entrance examination for the OSHP. I did not hesitate and applied on the phone.
I began preparing myself for the mindset of that of a state trooper which was one of high vigilance, professionalism and performance driven. I considered that the field of law enforcement requires a value system that must be fostered and maintained like no other job or career path. Where else do you apply for employment (nonmilitary) and know you may have to lay down your life for that of another?
I can vividly remember that day I chose to pursue being a law enforcement officer, the day of my graduation from the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy, and the very first stop I completed with my Chrysler patrol vehicle to assist a disabled motorist. I remember every detail of investigating my first fatal crash, the first resisting, and the first stolen vehicle recovery. I have had a lot of experiences at work that were so intense that I can close my eyes and be right at that same scene again. The sights, the sounds, the smells seem so real. To me they have been imprinted in my brain, sometimes I feel like they are imprinted in my soul too.
My background in the Ohio State Highway Patrol is one of diversity and well-roundedness. I began my career at a field post doing what all troopers join to do, investigate crashes, crimes, respond to the needs of the motoring public and of course, enforce the laws of the State of Ohio (write tickets and arrest people). I wanted to excel in an area of importance in my new job so I chose alcohol enforcement. It gave me a sense of accomplishment to detect, apprehend and arrest impaired drivers that came across my path during the shift.
Several years later, I transferred to the Ohio Turnpike. This assignment provided me with a renewed sense of energy. I am high-energy to begin with and the “ribbon-city” of the Turnpike traffic proved it nicely. The job entailed everything from traffic citations to drug and money seizures. People who utilized the Turnpike were not your local Ohioans for the most part. They were from all walks of life with a variety of diverse backgrounds and stories to tell about why they were doing what you caught them doing. There was NEVER a dull moment and I enjoyed that.
However, after meeting my husband Tom, I moved to the Columbus area and began a plain-clothes trooper assignment. I worked in business attire vs. the traditional uniform with heavy gun belt and equipment around my waist and looked more like a female. The job tasks were very interesting to say the least. Undercover and covert operations seemed to be the most appealing.
The first promotion came a few years later to first-line supervisor at the rank of sergeant at the training Academy. During this assignment I saw many cadets transform into being state troopers with confidence and pride as they went to their assignments.
Subsequent promotions came along from commander of the Internal Affairs Unit to working directly for the Superintendent, Recruitment and Training Officer, Risk Manager and Executive Officer in an administrative capacity supporting the field personnel and mission of the agency.
The journey although not long was filled with hills and flat roads. I can say most importantly that it was never what I was doing but who I working alongside with that molded and shaped me in the career of law enforcement. Being a leader was not signified by gender but by integrity, dedication, and perseverance. On each of our marked patrol vehicles are the words “excellence in service” and our personnel pride ourselves in upholding that 70+ year tradition.
Considering that some 30 years ago women entered the profession of state trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which was exclusively a male domain, our progress has been significant. Women bring a different approach to the world of law enforcement. Women continue to break down barriers and shape attitudes and practices of law enforcement by being mentors and role models for other women looking to become an officer.
Women are a significant component of law enforcement across the nation. I encourage women to continue to pursue careers in law enforcement, foster pride, and vision and grow professionally as well as individually in order to meet the needs of our society.
What’s next for women in law enforcement? I say there is no limit, no glass ceiling or barriers holding them from accomplishing what they desire and reaching their goals.
may GOD’s speed be with you.