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65-Year-Old Cadet, Several Women Make Up Class of 2014 Fort Stockton Police Academy

Updated:

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

FORT STOCKTON - After getting started last year, the night academy of the Fort Stockton Police Department is in full swing.

It's only the second time this academy has been offered but this group of cadets is already standing out in more ways than one.

In the class of 2014, the girls outnumber the boys and there's one cadet who's proving age is just a number.

"There are seven females and three males in this particular academy," Lisa Tarango, site coordinator and instructor for the academy, said.

It's the first time this has happened in the night academy's short history but these women are breaking the stereotype.

"You really don't see much women become police officers so there's a lot of respect for the women here," Cadet, Luis Villescas, said.

"We're just as capable," Cadet, Susan Hartzell, said. "I don't think you differentiate by sex. I think it's just the desire to do the job."

But even though the women outnumber the men, we're told everyone is treated equally.

"We just have good camaraderie," Hartzell said.

Hartzell is breaking stereotypes in more ways than one. At the age of 65, she's the oldest cadet in the class.

"Dynamite comes in small packages," Hartzell said.

Hartzell has already been with the department for 17 years as a dispatcher but now she's training to be on the other side.

"Over time I've considered being an officer," Hartzell said. "I had heard good things about the last academy and our instructor. I knew that the hours were gonna work well for me."

But it's not an easy task.

"It is a lot of dedication," Tarango said. "Most of them have daytime jobs, they have husbands and wives, they have children."

The cadets are in class four nights a week, learning everything they'll need until they graduate in October.

"Texas Penal Code, we go through firearms training, driving, defense tactics," Tarango said. "Anything you can imagine they would address on the streets, we're gonna cover before they get there."

Just like others, the police department is competing with the oilfield so there's a big need for more officers in the Basin, especially local cadets.

"If they're local then they plan to stay local," Tarango said. "They're not looking to move and leave our department. We know we're gonna have them for at least four or five years."

Graduation is still seven months away but with the badge at the finish line, the cadets said it's worth it.