MARKED TREE, AR (KAIT) - The Marked Tree Police Department welcomed a new patrol officer.
Chief Michael Matlock said Officer Jennifer Witherspoon, aka, the 'Gator' is their first female police officer in the history of the department.
He said Witherspoon went through an intense 120-hour training session provided by the police department.
The part-time officer course has put the new officer a little ahead of the game before she goes into the academy.
Matlock said Witherspoon will be a great asset to the department when it comes to handling situations on the scene that could use a female presence.
"As a male, I can't search a female," he said. "I would have to rely on a neighboring agency to help us out with a search and none of our neighboring agencies have female police officers. So, we would have to wait until we got to the station and let a female jailer do it."
Witherspoon said she's very excited to make history as the first female patrol officer in Marked Tree.
However, with a female officer now on their team, Matlock said they will become more progressive out on the street.
"We have Officer Witherspoon now who is more than capable at this point of handling any situation that comes up," he said. "We're trying to have a progressive department. I'm trying to have a diverse department. You can't have progression and diversity without being all inclusive, so I'm very excited about her being here."
Although becoming an officer wasn't her childhood dream, Witherspoon said she's very excited to make history as the first female patrol officer in the city.
"When I was younger I wanted to be a neurosurgeon," she said. "But it's like fifteen years of school, and you have to go out state for that. When I got a little older, I got interested in the law enforcement. My dad was a law enforcement officer, my little brother is a law enforcement officer, so, I figured let's go."
Officer Witherspoon will officially be patrolling the streets of Marked Tree on Monday, June 26.
Chief Matlock said after Witherspoon leaves for the academy, she will also get her full certification for the State of Arkansas in January 2018.
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