WESTBROOK — Westbrook Police Officer Jacqueline Lorenzen’s recent promotion makes her the department’s first female sergeant, and she hopes her position will inspire young girls.

Lorenzen

Lorenzen

“I think it sends a good message to any young girl looking to get into this line of work. It shows that women can succeed in a male-driven career field if they put in the time and work,” Lorenzen said.

Of Westrook’s 38 officers, four are women and two female officers recently retired.

The number of women on the Westbrook Police force has been on the rise since 1975, when Charlotte Adams was hired and assigned to the night shift. She served both on patrol and as a detective until she retired in the early 2000s.

“She was good. She appealed to a lot of people at disturbance calls,” said Mike Sanphy, city historian, former mayor and retired police sergeant. “Women related to her. Over the years, I think the guys grew a lot of respect for her and women in the force seeing how they work in public. Now, in all departments, more and more women are coming on.”

The department’s second female officer was Inger Cyr, who was hired in 1989. Cyr became the city’s first school resource officer in 1999.

By the time Cyr was hired, Sanphy said, a lot of the skepticism and “macho attitudes” around women police officers had diminished. Now, he said, skepticism and sexism towards women officers has tapered off.

Police Chief Janine Roberts agrees.

“In general, our society has shifted to include female officers more readily and accepting,” Roberts said. “No matter what gender we are representing, we all come with strengths, weaknesses, passions, interests and our talents that make up our team.”

Roberts noted that on average, 12% of patrol officers nationwide were women in 2014 and that in her time in Westbrook and Portland the number of female officers has been higher.

The City Council recently approved a $14,000 expansion of the women’s locker room at the police station. The expansion will give more space for women coming on and off shift and will also add lockers. There are currently five lockers for six women, with the potential for more female officers as many recent applicants have been women, Roberts said.

Lorenzen, who joined the Westbrook police force in 2014, wanted to be a police officer since fifth grade she when started the DARE program in Windham, followed by the DARE to Adventure Program in middle school. Both were led by Windham Officer Matt Cyr.

“Officer (Matt) Cyr instilled in me the need to make positive life choices if I wanted to become a police officer,” she said.

She graduated from Saint Joseph’s College in Standish with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, was hired in Westbrook and attended the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

Former Officer Inger Cyr, who retired from the police department 10 years ago, says anyone who wants to become a police officer should work toward that.

“I went through it in the ’80s and ’90s,” she said. “I encourage any young lady that is interested to follow your dreams.”

Westbrook Police “cop cards” from 2000. On the left is Charlotte Adams, Westbrook’s first female officer. At On right is Inger Cyr, the second female patrol officer and the city’s first school resource officer. Courtesy photo

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