HEWITT, Texas (KWTX) The City of Hewitt has its first-ever female police administrator.
Hewitt police Sgt. Kim Henderson. (Photo by Rissa Shaw)
"It's about time," said Chief Jim Devlin.
Kim Henderson, 47, was promoted from officer to sergeant this month.
"I'm proud, I worked hard for it," said Henderson. "I was excited because I had a lot of competition, there were a couple other people that applied as well and they gave me a good run for my money."
Two of her male co-workers also tested for the position, however, after a lengthy promotions process, Henderson came out as the top-ranked candidate.
"In one respect, it's a promotion - she's a female officer, she does just as much work and equal work as anybody else in this agency - but to be the first is a big deal," said Devlin.
"That's why everybody's asking about it because it is the first one, it is kind of a big deal."
Devlin said having a female administrator in the agency was a long time coming.
"If we were an 'at-will' system, I can assure you as the Chief of Police, a promotion like this, specifically with Sgt. Henderson, would have been done a long time ago," said Devlin.
Back in 2010, Hewitt PD went from being an 'at-will' agency to a civil service agency: the intentions of which are, not exclusively but heavily, to give all officers equal opportunities and remove potential biases, essentially a leveling of the playing field.
However, as a result of civil service, sometimes there's fewer promotional opportunities due to a set number of ranked positions with mandated benchmarks and criteria.
"Everyone has an equal chance once they meet the criteria," said Devlin. "It comes down to time and grade and being here (seniority) and the positions that are allotted."
Henderson has been with Hewitt Police Department for 11 years and has spent the last two years as a detective in the Criminal Investigations Division (CID).
"I have wanted to (move up in the agency) for a few years, it's just now the opportunity became available," said Henderson.
Being a female in law enforcement, Henderson is a 'rare breed,' however, she's even rarer now that she's in a management position.
According to the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Justice, women accounted for only 12 percent of local police officers, and between 1-3 percent of local police administrators.
"I know it's not that many of us, but it's something I just never really think a whole lot about, I just do my job," said Henderson. "I'm treated the same, for the most part, you always run into those people that feel like it's (being a female cop) an issue, but personally, I just, I do my job."
While she's just doing her job, Henderson admits, there's a certain amount of pressure that comes with being a woman in an leadership role in a male-dominated industry.
"In some ways, I feel like if you're a female and you get a position where maybe not a lot of other females do it, I think you are held to a higher standard," said Henderson. "If you mess up they're going to say it's because you're a female, not not because you make mistakes like everybody else."
Devlin said at least 25 percent of the officers in his agency were female, which double the national reported average, however, they could still do better.
"The department should be reflective of the community that we serve, I've always been a big proponent of that," said Devlin. "So do we need females and minorities in this agency? Yeah, 100 percent, because that's who we have, that's who we're policing."
Devlin said one of the most challenging jumps in policing was going from officer to sergeant.
"One day you're a troop, you're with your partners and your friends, and the next day you're supervising all of them," said Devlin. "It's a significant transition, but I have every confidence she can fulfill it."
Along with the promotion comes a raise for about $10,000.
"The sky is the limit for her," said Devlin.
Henderson started her law enforcement career in Los Fresnos before she and her husband, who graduated the police academy with her, moved to Hewitt.
She's a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) and DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) Instructor.
Achieving those certifications and teaching, Henderson said, helped her realize she wanted to move into a management position.
"Maturing in the job, learning exactly what it is to be a leader and wanting to help other officers grow and mature in their job," she said. "Just caring about the officers and wanting them to do well and be safe."
She had a message for other women and young girls who might want to follow her police path.
"Work hard, if this is what you want to do you can do it, but you do have to work hard at it," said Henderson.
"Don't let other women down."