Three WCSO Officers Attend “Breaking the Glass Shield” Conference
Three Wilson County Sheriff’s Office deputies were selected to attend the recent “Breaking the Glass Shield” Conference hosted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol in Nashville.
The conference provides a forum for the female officers to be exposed to national recognized speakers and network with their peers from other states. More than 300 women from across the country and Canada attended, representing more than 70 agencies at this year’s training event.
Attending from WSCO were Detective Diane Gilbert, who joined the Office in September 1999; Corporal Emmy Bates, who began her career with WCSO in 2003; and Deputy Jennifer Mekelburg, who first started with the WCSO as a dispatcher in 2001.
“This Office felt honored to have this many fine women from our agency to attend this national event,” Sheriff Robert Bryan said. “All three are outstanding officers, and we are very proud of them. We hope to have even more attend the next conference.”
THP Major Betty Blair began the leadership training program in 2012 when she determined there are so few women in ranking positions in all State Police and Highway Patrol Agencies. Today, there are fewer than four percent in the Tennessee Highway Patrol, similar to all other states. There is only one female Colonel, Kriste Kibbey-Etue, Michigan State Police. Nationally, the average is 12-14 percent women in local agencies, Sheriff’s Departments and Police Departments.
“This motivated me to search for leadership training for women in law enforcement,” Maj. Blair said. “I was unable to find anything so, with Col. (Tracy) Trott’s approval and support, I developed our own.”
Maj. Blair said the majority of the classes consist of leadership training in addition to networking and other subjects. This year’s conference also featured several high-ranking law enforcement women addressing issues such the growing problems of human trafficking, critical incident stress debriefing and a judge’s perspective on law enforcement presented by Federal Court of Appeals Judge Julia Gibbons.
The biennial conference is open to all commissioned women in law enforcement in addition to support staff such as analysts, etc. Attendees received 16 hours of Peace Officers Standards Training (POST) for this year’s event.