SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The Allan Hancock Police Department now has its first sworn female patrol officer in its 40-year history. On Monday at a brief ceremony at the campus police station, Herson officially joined the department. Her position represents the first new officer position added to the department in 15 years.
"It's already been a very busy morning with everyone trying to find their way around, including myself," said Herson during a quick break during her first day on the job Monday morning."Even though I've been on the streets before, this is very much like a day one. My boots are still shiny and I have a ton to learn."
The first day of fall classes on Monday also represented a homecoming of sorts for the native of Lake Arrrowhead. After earning a degree in journalism at Emerson College in Boston, Herson switched to a career in law enforcement and was a 2008 graduate of the Allan Hancock College Law Enforcement Academy.
"I'm back on my old stomping grounds," said Herson. "Only this time I'm not marching around in circles, I'm actually doing my job because they taught me well."
Herson comes to Hancock after a stint with the Atascadero Police Department. Prior to that, she also worked with the Lompoc Police Department. However, an opportunity to work on campus in an educational environment was something appealing. Herson says it's paramount for law enforcement to provide a safe atmosphere on campus. "You want that security there and that's what we're here for, create less stress, not only for the students, but the faculty as well," said Herson.
Chief of Police Wes Maroney says Herson came highly recommended from his police colleagues in Atascadero and he's happy she's on board in his department. "We're looking for people that start here, she went somewhere else and now she's come back to bring that education and training back to use here at the college," said Maroney.
The chief notes she'll be patrol campus daily and will provide a variety of police services, "Traffic accident investigation, crimes, everything a city police department does, we just do on a miniature size."
Maroney also adds it was important to add a female to his small roster of patrol officers. "We'll be able to have her go and talk to females at those special moments that require that."
Herson agrees a female presence in the department will be beneficial. "Especially when you're dealing with sexual assaults or a maybe a female 19-year old n campus who is experieincing something they would feel more comfortable talking to a woman about," said Herson.
With the addition of Herson, the Allan Hancock College Police Department now has a staff of 15, including Maroney, a sergeant, other sworn patrol officers, plus campus safety officers and dispatchers. The department may actually not be done growing just yet. Maroney is hoping to add one more sworn officer by the end of the school year.