WOMEN IN LAW ENFORCEMENT: Ferriday Police Department boasts strong female officers

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, April 30, 2023

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Editor’s Note: This week, we honor all first responders of the Miss-Lou with a themed edition of The Natchez Democrat. For more stories about first responders, check out this weekend’s edition of the Democrat.

FERRIDAY, La. — Women are not as often the stereotypical image of a police officer, but a woman is one of Ferriday Police Department’s top officers.

Anita Hood is both a full-time patrol officer and one of two investigators in the department. She started at Ferriday Police Department in 2007 as a dispatcher, working off and on for 13 years, she said.

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“I actually didn’t go to the academy until I was 40 years old,” she said. “It was something I always wanted to do, but women on patrol weren’t popular then.”

As a single mom of four children, Hood said her oldest children were able to help at home while she went through training and works 12 hours or longer on her shifts.

“I start my day at 4:45 a.m. and, on a good day, I may get off at 5 p.m. or sometimes 10 or 11 p.m. just depending on what is going on that day,” Hood said.

As an investigator, she is always on call.

“Here in Ferriday, we try to do whatever we can to keep our department running,” she said.

Hood said building trust and respect between officers and civilians is a challenge to all law enforcement in today’s world and for women in particular.

“As a female, you have to work harder for respect not only from the public but from your fellow officers as well,” Hood said, adding, “I love the people I work with.”

Out of uniform, Hood said she enjoys fishing and music and plays drums and bass guitar.

One thing she wants Ferriday residents to know is that police officers are around to help.

Too often, young people resort to “street justice” instead of asking for help when they need it, Hood said.

“We are not trying to be scary people,” she said. “We actually want to help. There’s so much going on nowadays that people are scared of the police when we just want to help them as much as we can. We’re everyday people, too.”

Hood said being able to help, even if it’s just one person, makes all the difficulties worthwhile.

“When you can reach one person and know that a conversation that you had or something that you contributed to helps them will make the job worth it,” she said. “I’m an introvert, but I love what I do and that makes a difference. I think it’s in your DNA. It’s a hard job and I know everybody can’t do what we do. I feel like it’s a calling.”

Hood said she also wants the public to know that no piece of information is too little.

“We want to help the community. We want to serve. But sometimes, we need the community’s help, too,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to inform the police when something is going on. That’s why we’re here. To serve the community.”

Unlike Hood, 27-year-old Lakeshana Harris is brand new to law enforcement. She started at FPD as a dispatcher last year and three months ago joined the patrol division. Like Hood, it has been a lifelong dream of Harris’s to be a cop.

“I grew up watching COPS with my great-granny and it always seemed interesting to me,” Harris said. “I like protecting and serving and just being out in the community and being able to help people. … I want to be a detective, but of course, I have to crawl before I can walk.”

Harris said she empathizes a lot with things she sees and hears on the street. She was 7 years old when her mother died and has no relationship with her father. Like many troubled youths in her community, she was raised “in the system” until she was adopted by a loving mother, Regina Harris. She has eight adopted sisters and is a proud aunt to their children.

“What I see going on in the streets affects me a lot because I’m the type of person who puts myself in other people’s shoes,” she said. “But it’s all good. I love it, and I love what I do. Being a dispatcher prepared me for what I do now. It’s everything I expected plus more.”

Harris said that even when the uniform comes off, her guard is up.

“A lot of people show me more respect outside the uniform than in uniform,” she said. “They say, and I quote, ‘Don’t mess with 12.’ I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people don’t like the police until they need the police.”

When asked how she gets through it, Harris said, “Honestly, God.”

At the end of her 12-hour shift, be it one of her roughest days or best days, Harris said she prays and writes in three different journals, a prayer journal, a devotional book and another notebook in which she writes down 10 things she is grateful for that day.

As a woman in law enforcement, Harris said she brings patience and a cool head to the role.

“I feel like we balance the men, and the men balance us,” she said. “We work together as a great team here.”

Harris said the most rewarding part of being a police officer for her is, “Making my mama and my chief proud and making myself proud of what I do.”

“I know that with what I do, I make a difference in the world,” she said. “That’s rewarding.”