Breaking barriers: Meet the 3 women blazing a trail at the Charleston Police Department

Breaking barriers: Meet the 3 women blazing a trail at the Charleston Police Department

CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — For decades, the U.S. Department of Justice has said women represent only 12% of law enforcement officers.

“There are plenty of people out there who don’t think women should be cops,” said Logan Aker, a police officer in Charleston.

She’s one of three at the Charleston Police Department trying to prove that statement wrong. Erica Roa and Kirsten Dicus are the others. They’re all blazing a trail, but the road to get there was a little different for each one.

Aker grew up with dreams of being a doctor, but that quickly changed in college.

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“Junior year, I interned at a correctional facility, and I realized that I wanted to do more,” she explained.

School Resource Officer Roa was pursuing a career in higher education until a new opportunity changed her mind. She said everything just ended up falling into place.

But for Dicus, she followed right along in the footsteps of her dad. He was also a Charleston police officer.

“I remember the first time I rode with him,” she said. “I was like ‘This is exactly what I’m going to do.'”

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Now, all three couldn’t imagine their lives any other way.

“You’re with people on their worst days,” Aker said. “But to be able to know that you are at least, no matter how small, you’re making a difference in their lives by helping them.”

For Roa, working with the community and building relationships is one of her favorite parts of the job. Her students all come from a variety of different families and home lives.

“Just being able to be there as a mentor and a resource for them as they’re kind of navigating their adolescence,” Roa said was one of the highlights of her job.

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Dicus hopes she can set a path for the next generation too, even if it’s tough at times.

“It’s worth the dedication you’re going to put forth,” she described. “It’s absolutely not something you should listen to somebody telling you not to do. It’s a very fulfilling job.”

Aker wants every young person to know your dreams are important. If you set your mind and want to do something, “just go do it,” she said.

It’s not always easy, and the three do work through many challenges, but working in a male-dominated industry doesn’t bother them. They make up about 9% of officers at the Charleston Police Department.

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