Less than five percent of the officers with Charleston Police Department are female. Jessi Redden hopes to inspire the next generation of officers and see that number reach new heights. Growing up, Jessi had two dream jobs.
“I used to always play cops and robbers with my brothers,“ exclaimed Redden. “It was either this or NASCAR driver.“
However, she realized that she might not fit the typical stereotype for either.
“I always thought, maybe I’m too small, maybe I’m too tiny because I’m 5’3″ and 115 pounds,“ said Redden.
Her size didn’t stop her. It turns out she was a perfect fit for the Charleston Police Department. She recently rose to the rank of Major for Community Outreach and Development.
“Whenever I first came on, it was a lot of guys,“ said Redden. “It’s kind of intimidating at first because it’s a male field kind of thing. Once I got here, they are all just like brothers.“
“Did you ever feel like you had to work harder to prove yourself to those guys?,“ asked Jennifer Abney.
“Yeah, and i still do,“ answered Redden. “I don’t know if it’s that stigma or what have you, I still have that feeling whether it be true or not.“
It was another strong woman in Jessi’s own family who inspired her to look beyond that stigma.
“My aunt, she was with the Charleston Police Department as well, she did the patrol like I did,“ Redden said. “She was a sergeant in the patrol division and was also in community policing, she did the DARE program.“
Now, Major Redden realizes her small stature sometimes allows her to have a bigger impact.
“If you get a big ole guy and they feel like they don’t have to boast up towards me,“ said Redden. “I don’t know if they see me as less of a threat or see me as a mother or daughter that they wouldn’t put their hands on. But it’s all about how you communicate with someone and it’s about how you talk them down.“
Using that gift to help those who need help the most make her job so rewarding.
“It’s the ones with the kids, single moms, domestic battery situations, those kind of hit you hard especially with the little kids because they are complete victims,“ added Redden. “They see that every single day, they have to deal with that every single day so if you can take that bad person out of their life, that makes you feel good.“
Something else that makes her feel good, inspiring the next generation of female law enforcement officers.
“So that young girls see that, yeah, you don’t have to be a boy, you can do whatever you want, literally anything you want,“ concluded Redden.