by: Dana Casullo
Two Vermont women are breaking down barriers in law enforcement, and hope to inspire more to follow in their footsteps.
Norma Hardy is a trailblazer in Vermont. Last year, she became the state’s first black female police chief, leading the Brattleboro Police Department. “Being a woman, were there any challenges you faced along the way? Absolutely, especially back then, I started in 1992. There were not a lot of women police officers in my department.”
Hardy spends her career breaking down barriers for women and people of color. “You had to prove yourself, you always had to do like a little more than the male counterparts. You had to always do 120 percent more of the job.” As just one of two women on the Brattleboro police force and the only person of color, Hardy hopes to set an example. “Do your best and go after it, and if you fail once, don’t let that be your story. Whatever you fail at one time, if you really want something you continue to keep doing it until you make it, and you too can be a chief of a department.”
Vermont State Police Captain Barbara Kessler understands as she is one of just under 40 women working for state police. “Early on in my career, there were a lot of issues that I had to deal with, you really have to prove yourself.”
Captain Kessler says now, that is something that is really changing. “Because as a culture VSP is very much about supporting female troopers and encouraging everyone to be a good trooper, and it really doesn’t look at gender, it looks at your strengths and weaknesses.” She hopes she can inspire more women to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Chief Hardy adds that she’s excited for some of the candidates going into the police academy next week and says we can expect some of them to be women.