Record Number of Females to Graduate From Springfield Police Academy

By Linda Ong |

Published 07/30 2014 07:05PM

Updated 07/30 2014 07:09PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  Twenty-four recruits from the Springfield Police Academy will soon put their training to the ultimate test.

The Academy's graduating class is comprised of 17 men and 7 women-- making this the largest group of women since 2000 to graduate since 2000.

All five feet, four inches of Gena Cecil are ready to take on the challenge of protecting the public.

"A little bit nervous, but very very excited," said Cecil. "Excited to be on the streets, excited to help people."

Cecil is one of seven female recruits set to graduate in this year's Springfield Police Academy-- the most women in the department's history.

All of the recruits must go through 25 weeks of the same training-- mental, physical, and educational. But the challenges of the job don't keep these women from pursuing their dreams.

"In general, it was never a question of if I was going to get through this," said Cecil.

Cecil said despite her size, the physical part won't been the most challenging aspect of her job.

"I think people will take my size for granted and take in their advantage," she said. "I know I'm fairly small. In general, I feel like I've been trained very well by the instructors here. So I'm not worried about my skill levels with tactics and things like that. I think it will be people underestimating me more than anything."

The Springfield Police Department has been trying to diversify its workforce to better reflect the community and its needs.

"There are certain things that female officers bring to the table that male officers aren't as good at," said Lt. Scott Umbarger. "Female officers do a very good job of talking to domestic violence victims, rape victims-- the interpersonal skills they bring a lot of times really help."

Cecil said she's excited to start patrolling and hopes more women will join her on the journey.

"As seven women overall it's a fairly small group," she said. "But to see such a variety in and among us, it makes me very proud and very happy to be a part of this group."

There will be a graduation ceremony this Friday for the recruits.

But the work has just begun for these soon-to-be graduates-- they'll have to complete 13 weeks of on-the-job training. Once they pass this, the graduates will then start patrolling the streets.

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