First female BPS officer in almost 20 years sworn in
Published 5:43 pm Friday, May 22, 2015
Standing less than five feet tall, Jessica Richardson looked nervous as she stepped to the front of the Bainbridge City Council chambers Tuesday evening.
However, she did not let her voice waver as she vowed to protect and serve the community as a Bainbridge Public Safety officer – the city’s first fully certified female officer in almost 20 years.
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Richardson’s mother, grandmother and 18-month-old daughter Alayna were in the audience as Mayor Pro Tem Don Whaley swore her in.
“I’m excited. I really am,” Richardson said. “I’m a single mom, and I always had goals for myself to push to before I had my daughter. You hear people saying, ‘women can’t do this and women can’t do that,’ and I’ve always been one to go against what people say.”
Before embarking on the weeks of training to be certified to work at BPS, which requires police and firefighter training, Richardson was in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years. Just after high school she spent time in Quantico, two years in Japan and a yearlong stint in California before coming home to Bainbridge.
Richardson said that she’s wanted to be a police officer since she was seven, and she realizes she has a big role to fill as the department’s first female officer in almost two decades.
“I honestly hope we have a few more females come in. I really don’t want to be the only one. I think it’s a great asset to the department,” Richardson said. “I want to be that example to encourage more females to come in.”
So far, Richardson said, the men of BPS have been welcoming and encouraging, even though many may have never worked side-by-side a female officer at BPS.
Currently, Richardson is going through field training with PSO Tim Mixon, gaining some hands-on experience before going out on the road alone.
Richardson said that being a police officer is more than just arresting people, despite what many think.
“I don’t see being a police officer as just making arrests,” Richardson said. “I actually see it as more of a way to be involved in my community and helping out whether it’s on an accident call or a domestic where we can get that family some help. I think you really have to have your heart in the job.”
She said that she wants to be a strong role model for her daughter and encourage her to do what she wants, despite what anyone says.
“Right now she just knows mommy’s going to work, but when she’s older I think she’ll realize, ‘Well my mom can do this, so I can do anything.’ I’m setting the example for her to not let any intimidation get to her,” Richardson said. “I haven’t worked a day since I’ve been here. I come here, and I’m completely in love with what I do. I want her to do that as well and not back down from people who say, ‘You can’t do this.’ Just get out there and do it.”