GUEST COLUMN — Women embracing important roles with Port Arthur Police Department

Published 11:16 am Wednesday, December 20, 2023

When I started in law enforcement things looked a lot different than they look today. I was one of only four female officers during a time when there was very little space or acceptance for female officers.

Now, after 30 years of service, I work amongst 20 plus female officers in an all-inclusive environment.

In 2006, the department promoted first ever female lieutenant, Lt. Janice Marshal. She retired in 2012. Lt. Marshall had been a patrol officer, detective, sergeant, negotiator, polygraph operator then lieutenant. She was definitely a mentor to me.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

On June 3, 2023, the department promoted Sgt. Angel Bush, the first African-American female to ever be promoted. Sgt. Bush is a hardworking, capable and knowledgeable police supervisor. There’s no doubt that she will promote to lieutenant one day.

On Dec. 8, the Port Arthur Police Department promoted Sgt. Shelby Harper to the rank of lieutenant, only the second female ever to reach that rank. Lt. Harper is an intelligent, well-rounded, easy-going supervisor. She is supportive of others and definitely a team player.

There are several other “firsts” within the department when it comes to the ever-  growing number of female officers.

Detective Camilita Snowden was one of the four females when I started and she became the first African-American female assigned to the detective division.

Det. Patricia Mendez, Det. Keisha Jolivette and Det. Ileana Jaquez have since joined the division. In addition, Det. Jolivette was our first female K9 handler.

Officer Jennifer Simmons was the first female ever to be assigned to the Narcotics Unit. Retired Sergeant Heather Rowe was our first appointed Mental Health Liaison

Officer. She helped establish the position from its birth, creating policy, procedure and the job description.

In the beginning, I thought I would always be one of very few females. To date, I have witnessed the promotions of five female officers and the accomplishments of several others. Not only are more females applying and getting hired, but they are excelling and advancing in their law enforcement career.

This makes me hopeful (and very proud) that the future will include the continuous employment and advancement of females.

Way To Go Ladies!

— Port Arthur Police Department Officer Wendy Billiot