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‘Police Women Of Dallas’ Win Community Admiration

By Carol Cavazos, CBS 11 News
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Photo of a Dallas Police Department squad car. (credit: Dallas Police Department)

Photo of a Dallas Police Department squad car. (credit: Dallas Police Department)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Five, female officers with the Dallas Police Department were recently featured on a reality TV series showcasing police women in a handful of cities.

While the TV crew spent six weeks with the officers, capturing their every move, the women themselves appear to have captured the admiration of the public.

Senior Corporal Melissa Person’s beat is in South Dallas. At any given hour, she may stop a suspected drug dealer, answer a call about a schizophrenic man off his medication, or push a car out of an intersection. Her not so glamorous life hasn’t changed much except for the national reality TV show that turned her and four other female, Dallas police officers into local celebrities.

Stopping to pick up a couple of tacos at a local Jack in the Box, the cashier recognizes Person at the drive through window. He can’t believe it’s her. “Oh my gosh!!! That’s one of the Dallas cops!!” he squeals.

Officer Person, who’s been a policewoman for nearly a decade, calmly asks, “You like that show?” When someone else behind the counter comes to take a look at her, Officer Person acknowledges the others with an enthusiastic “Hi!”

“Police Women of Dallas” premiered on TLC last fall with just eight episodes. Soon reruns followed and so did fans. The unabashed Jack in the Box fan asked for an autograph. “I’m going to need you to sign this for me. Oh my gosh!!!!” the restaurant cashier squealed again.

Officer Person still finds the adoration interesting. “The first couple times it happened to me I said, ‘Really? You know I’m just an office. I’m here every day’,” she said with a chuckle.

The show not only looks at police women working, but also reveals aspects of the officers’ personal lives and personalities.

Sgt. Tracy Jones is one tough cop. She works on northeast side of the city and has been with the department for 15 years. “So many shootings, cuttings, murders, dead bodies. I’ve seen it all,” she said.

Sgt. Jones, who recorded all the shows, cued up an episode where she ended up pepper spraying a woman. Watching the segment, Jones remarked, “That woman didn’t cough. She didn’t sneeze. Nothing. She took that spray like a champ.”

Sgt. Jones does what she needs to, to be an effective police officer, but also has a tender side. That’s most evident when there are situations dealing with her daughter, Kaylon, who has been on the show too.

Kaylon appeared in an episode where Sgt. Jones teaches her how to drive and in another segment videotaped at Kaylon’s dance class. “Now I guess she’s a celebrity. But, she’s still mom to me,” Kaylon said.

The show captures the element of danger on the streets. Though none of the officers has ever been shot, Beth Burnside remembers a close call when she was a rookie.

Burnside and her partner had just pulled up to a motel where two suspected armed robbers were holed up. The officers knocked on the door and it opened a crack.

“It’s very quiet and you can hear the sound of a bolt-action rifle, like click, click,” remembered Burnside. “If we’d said ‘I’m the police. I’ve got my weapon. I’m going in and find out what’s going on.’ I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today,” she said.

There are two rookies, Sara Ramsey and Mia Shagena, on the show. “I get to see the good things about people’s lives, the bad things about people’s lives,” said Shagena. “The things people really need help with. I feel like that’s an honor.”

The women featured on the television program are just five of some 600 women on the Dallas police force. There are 3,026 men on the force.

But don’t think because those women wear a badge that blue runs in the blood. Officer Person’s 14-year-old daughter, Katherine, said, “I’d be way too scared [to be an officer].”

Katherine loves to paint and wants to become an actress some day. While Katherine says she sees the police officer in her mother she doesn’t always see her mother in the police officer. “Sometimes I can’t recognize her on the show,” she said.

Melissa Person knows she can’t be everybody’s mother. She just wants to be their police officer. And regardless of her newfound celebrity, she just wants to do her job.

The Dallas Police Department had told City Hall they hoped the focus on these five officers would draw more female applicants to the department. No word if that’s been the result.

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