RENO, NV - It could be the career change you are looking for. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is recruiting. They're looking for dozens of new deputies and they're making a special push toward recruiting women for future vacancies.
"It was time to get a job and I needed something that made enough money that could support my kids," says Deputy Brooke Keast, when asked why she decided to work for the Sheriff's Office.
Looking at Deputy Keast, it's hard to believe she hasn't always done this job. She's been working at the Washoe County Jail for ten years, but before that...
"I was a stay-at-home mom," she says. "And that's what I did until I got this job."
Like many women, she unexpectedly found herself at a point in her life where she needed to find work. At the age of 38, she had two kids and no college degree. Then a chance meeting changed her life.
"I met a woman from another agency who was in law enforcement and she just threw the idea in my head," says Deputy Keast. "It was not a goal from the start.
But it's one of those things, when you're looking to find work, it's a great opportunity for women."
Now, she is encouraging other women to join her. Deputy Keast is one of about 100 women working at the sheriff's office. They make up 25-percent of the force. But now, with possible retirements coming up, the agency wants to make sure it's reaching out.
"Right now what we're doing is creating a list of potential candidates for the positions that we anticipate to open in the future," says Lt. Heidi Howe. She says in the next two years, there are 37 people who will have enough time with the agency to retire if they want to.
"So rather than be caught off guard, we thought we'd be proactive," says Lt. Howe.
And hiring more women would create more opportunities for current female deputies who want to move up. Lt. Howe says there is an unlimited number of roles for women at the Sheriff's Office.
For anyone who might be considering law enforcement as a career, Lt. Howe encourages them to check it out.
"Keep an open mind," she says. "Don't make assumptions on what the job is based on what you see in a movie or on a TV show. Come in, take a tour. See what we really do on a daily basis."
She says this could be the job for you if you like challenges and you're a people person.
"If you have the ability to think on your feet and talk to people, and do multiple things at once," says Lt. Howe. "I love what I do. I don't know what I'm going to walk into each day. Everything is new and different."
For Deputy Brooke Keast, deciding to work at the Sheriff's Office is one of the best things she ever did.
"It's a good time and you meet a whole group of women that you work with that's very supportive and it's a lot of comeraderie," says Dep. Keast. "So, it's a neat place to be!"
The Sheriff's Office is accepting applications through Friday, December 28, 2012. To help all of those interested in the application and selection process, WCSO will hold an open house for those who have applied on Saturday, December 8th at the Regional Public Safety Training Center. There, current Sheriff's Office staff will mentor applicants about the required background check and written exam. Applicants will also have the opportunity to test their fitness level by participating in the required physical abilities test. Staff will also be able to share stories about their experience and answer questions.
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