Recognizing women in law enforcement

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 By HEATHER WALTERS 

The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office is recognizing four of its female deputies as part of the recent and national women’s recognition month. 

The four deputies at the sheriff’s office who are being recognized are Lt. Tanya Adams, at the Colleton County Detention Center; Sgt. Doretha Grant, who is the Sergeant of Court Security at the Colleton County Courthouse; Sgt. Kessler, with the Road Patrol Division; and Lt. Amanda Murdaugh, with the telecommunications department at the sheriff’s office. 

Lt. Adams

Adams is a Colleton County native, and currently lives in the Springtown Community. She has been a detention officer with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 15 years and is the current lieutenant of the Colleton County Detention Center. She has held this position at the county jail for nearly five years. 

“I was drawn to the profession of law enforcement because I wanted to help and give back to my hometown,” she said. “I worked at Wal-Mart and saw an officer wearing a CCSO uniform and asked him if the detention center was hiring. The following day, I filled out an application, and a week later, I interviewed and got the job.” 

As a female officer, Adams said her gender and her role as a mother has helped her career in law enforcement. 

“Being a woman and a mother guides me in the right direction, not only in my current role as a Lieutenant but also in the law enforcement profession,” she said. “I possess outstanding listening and communication skills that allow me to connect with inmates regarding making better life choices. I always tell people to treat everyone with respect no matter their life choices.”

Adams said her being a law enforcement officer has helped her become “the person I am now.” She said her career has also helped her to positively impact her Colleton County home. 

“My profession within the Detention Center has made me well known in the community,” she said. “When I’m out running errands, I receive the utmost respect for doing this line of work and the positive impacts I’ve made during my tenure.”

When asked if she feels there are limitations for women who seek a career in law enforcement, Adams quickly said no.   

“I don’t believe there are limitations for women in our society,” she said. “As a woman, I always tell other women to set their standards high. With passion, drive, and the right mindset, you can achieve anything.

“I’m proud of myself for accomplishing multiple goals and receiving numerous certifications during my tenure. It was a long hard road to get where I am today, but I can’t take all the credit for it. I’m thankful for the support of my mother, Gloria Bowman, and sister Tina Pinckney for always believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. “

SGT. KESSLER

A Pennsylvania native, Kessler moved to South Carolina when she was a freshman in high school. She then pursued a career in law enforcement, and has been an officer for six years. She has served two of those six years with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office. 

Kessler said she brings value to her Colleton community as a female officer. 

“Sometimes specific incidents occur where females and children are more comfortable speaking with a female officer,” she said. “I like to believe I’m making a difference. 

“I enjoy being a part of the community events (before COVID), which granted officers the opportunity to interact with children and citizens. Being a part of these events is more than just being present. It forms everlasting bonds between citizens and law enforcement, allowing citizens to see we’re regular people with the ambition to help others. “

When asked if she feels women face obstacles while pursuing a career in law enforcement, Kessler said she feels there have been “great strides” in our society toward female equality. “However, there are still some limitations for women in our society,” she said. 

“I overcame obstacles as a female working in the profession viewed as a predominantly male career choice. For example, when I first started the law enforcement journey six years ago, I can recall a service call where the individual stated they needed to speak with a male officer to get the ‘problem handled,’” she said. “I am proud and honored to reach this supervisory level within the CCSO.” 

In addition to her role as a female deputy, Kessler is also the only female sergeant within the Road Patrol Division. She is also the youngest person on the team that she supervises.

“Achieving this has made me realize you can achieve anything with hard work and dedication,” she said.  

SGT. GETHERS 

A Charleston native, Gethers now resides in Colleton County. She is the supervisor of Court Security for the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, and her career in law enforcement started within the local detention center in 2003. “From there, I worked my way through the ranks, obtaining my Class 1 Law Enforcement Certification through the SCCJA,” she said. “I’ve worked in numerous divisions such as Road Patrol, School Resource, Investigations, etc.”

Gethers has been a law enforcement officer for 17 years. She said her passion for her career is building relationships and helping people to make good choices. 

“I believe it gives females a different outlook on life and incentives,” she said. “There are hurdles females will encounter no matter their profession. Remember there are no limits, and never give up.”

When asked about obstacles she has faced as a woman in law enforcement, Gethers said her being a black female has also presented challenges. “Encountering and overcoming life’s obstacles has taught me to never stop striving for greatness,” she said. “I’m proud of myself for achieving this position. 

“I always try to be better than I was yesterday, and I’m still striving for future achievements in this field; knowledge is power. 

LT. MURDAUGH

A Walterboro native, Murdaugh began her  career in law enforcement in 2002 as a dispatcher. During the last 19 years, she has worked in several different positions, earning her current rank as a lieutenant over the sheriff’s office Telecommunications Division. 

Murdaugh said her interest in law enforcement began to grow from her stepfather, who was a police officer. “Growing up around the profession made me want to be one of the first, first responders (dispatchers) who work to ensure citizens, law enforcement officers, and firefighter’s safety,” she said. 

Murdaugh said her being a woman has certainly impacted her career, in a positive way. 

“Women possess excellent communication skills, which are crucial in de-escalating situations and communicating with individuals in times of distress,” she said. “When someone calls 9-1-1, we are the first voice of comfort someone hears during what could be one of the most traumatic times of their life.” 

When asked if she has faced limitations in her law enforcement career because she is a woman, Murdaugh said limitations do exist. However, she also said that there are constant steps being taken by our society to make sure women continue to move forward in equality. 

“I’m proud of myself for selflessly serving almost 19 years with the CCSO,” she said. “Most people don’t understand what being a dispatcher entails. 

“It’s not just answering phones. We dispatch for seven different agencies and are looking at six computer screens simultaneously, answering calls, speaking with individuals, and inputting information,” she said. “Being a dispatcher can be one of the most rewarding or devastating jobs depending on the call. 

“To thrive in this profession, you must possess a strong personality and excellent multi-tasking skills.”

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