The North Carolina Highway Patrol is trying to recruit more women. They admit it's a struggle to bring them to a tough job.
Women can succeed on the force, however, and troopers point to Capt. Jennifer Harris, the first female captain in the history of the state highway patrol and currently commander of the driving range at the patrol’s training center.
“I feel very honored. I never thought I would make history in the highway patrol.” Harris said Tuesday.
She started in 1989 and worked her way up through the ranks.
“I hope that it helps break that ‘glass ceiling.’ so to speak and that other females know that if they want to pursue a career in law enforcement and they want to excel in the ranks with the highway patrol, that it is possible,” Harris said.
Currently, 43 of the state highway patrol’s 1,815 troopers are women, 2.4 percent. The national average is 6 percent, North Carolina troopers say. By comparison, Raleigh police say their force is 11 percent female.
Harris says the way the patrol operates deters some women.
“You're in a car. You're stopping people late at night. You're out there without a partner nearby, you know. Help could be 15 minutes away,” the captain explains.
The rigorous training also keeps some women out. Harris said it was hard even after military training.
“I left high school and went to the Air Force Academy for a year, did basic training out there.” She said. “By far, the patrol training school was the toughest thing I've ever been through.”
“Hey, we're recruiting females. We need more females, and it's a great career choice,” she added.
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