NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Richland Hills police officer is blazing a trail for women in law enforcement.
While her marksmanship skills are getting her noticed, it is mindset that sets Amanda Kneisel apart.
Kneisel has spent the past six years with the NRH force, but being a police officer is a lifelong dream.
“When I was 4 years old my mom asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up and this is what I said. It’s been that way ever since,” she says.
Mindset is a word she often uses to describe what it takes to do this job.
It’s apparent at the VX Marksmanship range in Decatur, where Kneisel and the snipers of the North Richland Hills SWAT team practice every month.
“I wanted to help the police department in any way or shape I could and I also wanted to better my career as well,” Kneisel says of why she chose the SWAT Team path.
Not everyone gets to train at this shooting range; it’s a right Officer Kneisel earned this summer, when she became not only the first female sniper on the North Richland Hills Police force, but the first woman ever to graduate from the Fort Worth Police Department’s sniper school.
“The main thing is just to go out there, work hard, and be able to do it,” she says of what this intense line of work requires.
The snipers practice on targets at the range from 100 to 1,000 yards away.
Instructor Dan Sanderford’s job is to make the atmosphere chaotic — alarms, noise, anything to simulate the distractions and adrenaline rush that happen in a real life SWAT emergency.
Sanderford says Kneisel always stays cool.
“Not going to lie– it’s very impressive, especially in a male-dominant community,” Sanderford says.
Kneisel’s counterparts on the police force are proud to work along side her.
“It takes a lot of dedication because it’s a perishable skill. Marksmanship and all the other skill sets that are related to being a sniper– you have to practice on a continuing basis,” says Chris Cranford.
Cranford has been with NRH Police for 17 years and is also a sniper on the SWAT team. Kneisel is not the only woman on the city’s SWAT team: Lt. Carrie White is the commander.
“It’s just a big brotherhood. They’re actually very protective of me, too,” Kneisel says.
“What does that mean? It means we don’t cut her any slack,” replies Cranford.
Officer Amanda Kneisel is dedicated. It’s an essential sharpshooting skill, that comes from sharpness of mind.
“Go do it. You can achieve it. You have to have the right mindset. If you have that goal, show everyone you can do it,” Kneisel says.