The South Dakota Highway Patrol is looking to hire troopers, and the agency is recruiting women. Agency leaders are accepting applications for next year. They say this is the first time the Highway Patrol is specifically reaching out to female recruits. Safety officials say they want women to consider careers in law enforcement.
Of the current 174 Highway Patrol Troopers in South Dakota, six are women. Trooper Khrista Nelson went to school for law enforcement and spent time as a military police officer. She’s been a state trooper for more than a year.
“I absolutely think a woman is able to do this job just as well as a man. I think moreso just getting the word out – and, you know, that’s kind of something that we’re trying to do is just let young women know that you can do this job,” Nelson says. “We have plenty of women that are moms, are married, have other thing going on and they still can do this job. I definitely know it’s not the Patrol. We are very supportive of all different cultures, both genders, all that stuff.”
Nelson says her male colleagues treat her no differently because she’s a woman. The trooper says she understands why some women hesitate to go into law enforcement.
“It’s not always safe. You have days that you go to work it is very dangerous. I do believe the way you carry yourself and how you conduct yourself and if you’re confident, a lot of people will not look at you differently,” Nelson says. “There is the other side of things; there are times that you will be challenged more because you are a female. That’s where you need to be mentally strong, physically fit and prepare yourself always for the worst.”
Nelson says the keys to her work as a female Highway Patrol trooper are a commitment to service and a passion for helping people.
State officials are hosting women’s recruiting seminars in the coming weeks. Leaders want women to learn about applying and training for the job. They also want women considering this career to understand its challenges and the daily experience of a Highway Patrol trooper.
Seminars are being held:
Tuesday, July 21, Highway Patrol Office, Aberdeen
Wednesday, July 22, Highway Patrol Office, Rapid City
Monday, July 27, Southeast Behavioral Healthcenter, Sioux Falls
Monday, August 10, Law Enforcement Training Center, Pierre