FORT MEADE, Md. –
PFC SP came to NSA more than 30 years ago because she needed a full-time job. She’d been working several part-time jobs and heard the Federal Government had opportunities. A job in law enforcement was not on her radar, but she filled out the paperwork and got the job.
“I didn’t know anything, but I guess I was supposed to be here,” PFC SP said recently. “Once I got here and went through the training, it just clicked.”
When she joined the force, it was part of the General Services Administration’s Federal Protective Service. Soon after, in 1986, it became NSA’s Security Protective Force. In 2001, the name changed again to the NSA Police when the force gained the authority to conduct arrests and apprehensions. The change meant more money, better training, and better equipment for the officers – who are charged with protecting the workforce and facilities of NSA.
For National Police Week 9-15 May, PFC SP took the time to reflect on her career, the highs, the lows and what has kept her at NSA for so long.
Before coming to NSA, PFC SP had never carried or shot a gun. She says she made it through training but was “no Annie Oakley.” She has never had to shoot her gun on duty, but after someone she worked with had to shoot theirs, it really hit home.
“In 35 years you never pull a gun but then something freaky happens, and it’s an eye opening experience,” she said. “Police work is dangerous no matter where you work… It can make you cry to see how quickly things can escalate.”
Officers are trained to stop potential and imminent threats which ultimately could require use of force. It can be a heavy weight, PFC SP admitted.
“Separating that from my beliefs is hard,” she said, but she chose this line of work because she likes helping people. It’s a balance.
PFC SP has held various positions in the department including working at the gate, serving as a lead alarm officer, and now head armorer for first relief – responsible for tracking guns, ammunition, radios, and equipment for those on post.
Her best memory was the day former President George W. Bush visited in 1991. She was supposed to be the armorer that day but ended up in the lobby where he was due to arrive. She remembers being told by an FBI special agent not to look at the president because then, she wouldn’t be doing her job. When President Bush walked in, he set down his coffee and immediately began talking to her.
“We hit it off like we were old friends,” she said. She has an autographed photo of them to remember the occasion.
These days, there’s definitely a down side to being a police officer. PFC SP said that she used to wear her uniform home, but not anymore. She puts on her plain clothes when she leaves for the day.
“I hate current events. All the shootings and killings,” she said. “I don’t tell people what I do for a living. I don’t know where people have been or how they have been affected… When things go awry, it puts you in a difficult position. It’s hard. It breaks my heart.”
But still, she comes to work each day to ensure the people and facilities of NSA are safe.
“I still enjoy the work I do,” she said. “I make a difference.”