The streets of West Liberty, Iowa are a little safer thanks to the efforts of newly hired police officer Pamela Romero. She joined the force on June 15th of this year.
Prior to officially becoming one of the city’s finest, Romero volunteered as a Reserve Officer every other weekend. She was encouraged to participate in the program after meeting Police Chief Kevin Gyrion while taking part in a panel to interview prospective city managers.
Romero says that the city’s leaders had long seen the need for a female and bilingual officer, but they encountered some skepticism from some members of the community, whose preconceived notions dismissed Latinas as too submissive to volunteer to hold positions of authority.
It is exactly those stereotypes that Romero hopes to break.
“Females can be really strong and you know how a lot of Latinas are. If you really want something we get it,” she said.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Latinos of any race comprise 52.2% of the city’s population. Females make up 50.5%.
Romero is both the city’s only female and only Latina police officer.
It was a natural inclination to serve and protect her community that motivated Romero toward her new career. The Durango, Mexico native immigrated to the United States at the age of 9. Neighbors often sought her help with translation. Later, she would provide reference letters and help them understand immigration matters.
Prior to becoming an officer, Romero was employed with the West Liberty Community School District for 7 years.
In her new position, a typical day for Romero is anything but routine. She starts off her day by checking her equipment, including a firearm, to ensure that it is operating correctly. After that, it’s anyone’s guess what the day will bring.
“I do everything from traffic stops, taking stolen property reports and domestic violence calls,” she said.
Romero was recently dispatched to assist a victim of sexual assault who spoke little English. Upon seeing the officer, the victim threw her arms around her and began sobbing. It is a fact that it can be understandably difficult for female victims of violence to trust male officers and that is why Romero was both humbled and reminded of the importance of her position.
Aside from being engaged in tough situations, Romero also says her job has brought many moments of happiness. Among many happy moments that she remembers there is one that even now still stands out to her and that was when female students at her former school (and her own daughters) approached her to tell her they wanted to become a police officer when they grow up.
Officer Romero had a wise advice for them.
“The advice that I have for Latinas seeking a career in law enforcement is that, no matters what happens don’t ever give up your dream. If you are afraid, nervous or insecure of this career just because you are a female, don’t be. Don’t doubt yourself because of your looks. Give it all you got.”
Romero says that her faith and family give her the strength and inspiration to continue in her trailblazing career. She has been married to her husband, Cesar Romero, for 16 years and together they are proud parents to three daughters.
Romero said: “My family is my biggest motivation and support. My husband is my best supportive friend. I am here to serve my community. If it wasn’t for God I will have none of this.”
Romero holds an associate degree from William Penn University. In her spare time she enjoys running, swimming, reading and spending time with her family.