City's first female police chief settling into new job

HORNERSVILLE, MO (KAIT) – JoBeth Patterson has been serving as the Hornersville Chief of Police since April 2012, a first for Patterson, and the city, as Patterson is the first female in Hornersville to hold the position.

Patterson has worked in law enforcement for about seven years, beginning at the Dunklin County Sheriff's Office.

While attending Mississippi County Community College (now Arkansas Northeastern College) in Blytheville to get her criminal justice degree, Patterson interned under Sheriff Bob Holder. "I had to learn how the jail ran for a report due in college, and after that (Sheriff Holder) put me full-time as a jailer, and (my career) just started from there."

After graduating from college, Patterson enrolled at the eight-month police academy at Southeast Missouri State University.  While she attended the police academy on weekends, she also worked as the Dunklin County Head Corrections Officer Monday through Friday.

A Hornersville native, Patterson said she knew as a teenager that she wanted to be a police officer. "My freshman year in high school I really decided that's what I wanted to do."

Patterson said her family supports her career overall, with the exception of one incident.

Her grandmother has a police scanner, and one day she heard what Patterson was doing on the job. Patterson's grandmother did what many grandmothers would do.

She called her son.

Patterson laughed as she recalled the conversation between her father and grandmother, "She said, 'Do you know what she's doing?'"

"'We're listening to her, and she's chasing a man through a cotton field, and we don't like it,' and he said, 'Mom, the best thing for you to do is to turn off that radio and not listen to her.'"

"She said, 'Well, I can't. I've got to make sure she's okay.'"

Family friend and Hornersville mayor William Foresythe said Patterson has fulfilled his expectations. "We felt very fortunate to get her with as much crime and stuff that's going on, to get a young lady with this experience."

"We've noticed a lot of people leaving town, packing their bags and leaving town that don't want her to investigate them," he said.

"You have to be tough out here because if you don't, you're going to get hurt," Chief Patterson said.

Being tough is a quality she believes she has always had.

"We grew up fishing, hunting, trapping, in a boat. I've been out in the woods. I've probably done a lot more things than some guys."

Patterson said the unpredictability of her job takes a backseat to maintaining the stability of her family.

"I do have two kids that need their mom. Safety first out here. I'm going home."

Once she is home, Patterson said her work won't be there with her.

"You have to learn to leave the stress of the job in the office because if you take it home with you, it's going to affect your home life."

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