The ACU Police Department has sworn in its first-ever female officer. Officer Sheila Barton was sworn in to the ACUPD Oct. 14.
ACU Police Chief Jimmy Ellison said Barton now fills a position that had been open for months.
“Being shorthanded for a 24-hour department created longer hours and difficult weekend duties,” Ellison said.
He said the department was searching for someone who was detail-oriented and had background in law enforcement, but who would also fit in with the other officers.
“All of our officers are experienced cops and they are cops we know care about the university and the campus community,” Ellison said.
Ellison said that Barton’s gender was not the deciding factor in her addition to the force.
“She was by far the most qualified applicant we had,” he said. “The fact that she was female was a bonus, not a factor.”
However, Ellison said Barton’s gender might be useful in some situations.
“I do think it brings us another angle, certainly some female victims may feel more comfortable at times,” he said.
Before joining the ACUPD, Barton served 25 years at the Beaumont Police Force. Barton said she had been working as a detective on sex offender cases when she left.
Barton said coming to the ACUPD was a great opportunity.
“This is a great department, this is a nice city,” she said. “I like the college, I like the area.”
Her gender is not something she said she considers while performing her job.
“I don’t think of being a female officer; I’m just an officer,” Barton said.
Barton said she is passionate about her job.
“I love the aspect of helping people,” she said. “I like the aspect of going out and talking to people, whether they are the victim or the suspect; I love the job.”
Working on a campus with students and being able to help them through their days is something Barton said she is most excited about.
“A lot of times, in being an officer for so long, you start seeing a lot of negative,” Barton said. “When you look around, there is a lot more good than there is negative, so I am looking forward to helping people in a non-negative way.”
As she has been walking around the campus this week, Barton said she’s really enjoyed seeing all the social clubs pledging and wearing different clothing.
“That’s the fun part, you know, because if you’re working for the city, you don’t get to see that,” she said.
So far, Barton said the students and faculty she’s met around campus have really welcomed her in.
“I think it’s a great campus, everyone’s very friendly and it’s a good community,” she said.
As for any students who are considering a future in law enforcement, Barton leaves them with some advice.
“If it’s truly what you want to do and you feel like that’s where God is leading you, go for it,” she said.