Sergeant Heckel has been with the Mesa Police Department since
1986. Some of her assignments include Patrol Officer, Field
Training Officer, Property Crimes Detective, Sex Crimes
Detective, Hiring Detective, Accreditation Officer, Patrol
Sergeant, and Recruiting Sergeant. Below are some questions we
asked Sergeant Heckel reference her experiences with the Mesa
What made you want to get into a career in Law
I was always interested in Law Enforcement but I was leaning
more toward the juvenile probation area. I earned my Bachelors
degree in Social Justice. I started working for a law
enforcement agency in an administrative position and part of the
job requirements was to ride with an officer. I really liked the
ride-along and I realized I could do the job of an officer and
it paid twice as much as the job I was doing.
What concerns did your family and friends have with you
becoming a police officer and did their concerns change after
successful completion of your training?
My parents were very worried about me and their attitudes didn't
change until they went for a ride-along with me. The shift my
mom rode was extremely busy and she loved it!
Did you find it hard to compete with male officers
during the academy and FTO program?
I found in the academy, all the recruits really bonded more as a
team. They accepted you as long as you worked hard and did your
best. Once I got into the FTO program and onto a regular squad,
I found the male officers did not trust you until you proved you
could do the job. I came on 20 years ago and there weren't very
many women officers, so many of the male officers had not worked
closely with a female.
How do you balance the scale between family life and
Balancing is always tough in whatever job you do. The police
department employees also become your family and often times I
depended on my friends I have made here to help with the
schedule conflicts you encounter.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation you could
not handle because you were a female?
No, the training with this department is excellent.
Did you have any issues getting hired and how did you
cope with the academy physical fitness requirements?
I did not have any issues getting hired; the process went very
smoothly. The academy was physically demanding but it really
builds self confidence. As long as you give 100% every day, you
will make it through the fitness program.
What do you feel you bring to Mesa PD because of being a
Well, all females help make the department more diverse. The
population we serve is about 50% female and there is a need for
female officers. I believe women generally have good verbal
communication skills, multi-tasking skills and negotiating
Do you feel that Mesa PD is a diversified department and
should the department seek harder to hire more female officers?
I believe this department is diversified and I believe we always
need to do more recruiting and educating of females. We need to
show them what the job really entails and that even if they have
never thought about a career in law enforcement, they can do
this job, be successful and benefit from the salary, medical
benefits and retirement.
Give one example of a situation where being a female
officer helped defuse the situation?
I went on a domestic violence call where it was not the
homeowner's involved, but a relative and his wife. When it was
determined the male was going to be arrested, the male homeowner
became extremely agitated and upset because the relatives were
from out-of-town. The homeowner was very muscular, tall, and
appeared strong. It started to become a challenge on how many
male officers were going to assist in taking him to jail when
the homeowner fought with them. I stepped in to talk to the
homeowner and his wife. I was not a challenge to him, so he felt
comfortable to talk with me. He was able to calm down and think
about his choices. He offered no further problems even when the
relative was arrested.
What is your most memorable experience as a police
The first Christmas day I worked, the family fights started at
7:00 am, neighbor problems around 10:00 am and I started to feel
very depressed that people couldn't even get along on
Christmas. As I was leaving a call involving neighbors who
couldn't agree on where to place a garbage can, a little girl
about 5 years of age and her mother came out from the house
across the street and brought me a plate of Christmas
cookies. They thanked me for doing my job and working on
Christmas so they could all feel safe and enjoy theirs. It
really reminded me of the reason I started this career.
Do you feel the department has been supportive in
assisting you to reach your career goals?
What advice would you give to women who want to become
This is a great career for women. There are so many different
areas you can go to within the department and the new
assignments are almost like a new job! You can also build areas
of expertise in some of the assignments that could turn into a
career opportunity for you after you retire from police
work. This job is fun and always changing. I would recommend
this career to any female who likes a challenge with good pay
If you would like to contact Sergeant Heckel, please send her an