It only took one day for Emerald Hambrick to prove her value to the Hephzibah Police Department.
On her first call as a reserve officer with the department, she and two other officers were called to a fight within the Hephzibah city limits. When Chief Dwayne Flowers arrived on scene, his jaw dropped.
“By the time I and another officer got there, she had already beat us there and already had a person in handcuffs,” he said. “She’s not scared and she works hard.”
Hambrick, 25, would later become Flowers’ first hire. Hambrick is likely the only full-time female officer the department has ever had, he said.
Hambrick said she can trace her love of law enforcement back to her time in college, where she took a class that required students to volunteer. Hambrick chose the Swainsboro Police Department, and was hired to work as the department’s secretary.
After nearly nine months of listening to officers’ stories, she decided that she had found something she enjoyed, and enrolled in the law enforcement academy at Ogeechee Technical College in 2010.
“It just sounded fun,” she said. “The officers would come in with search warrants and I would tell them, ‘Take me. I want to go.’”
Hambrick landed her first job in law enforcement at the Wadley Police Department, where she remained until she joined the Hephzibah Police Department in September 2012.
In her short time with law enforcement, she said she enjoys knowing that her actions can impact Hephzibah citizens in a positive way.
“The best part about it, to me, is helping people even when they don’t know that you’re doing it to help them,” she said. “Nobody looks at a speeding ticket and says, ‘Boy, that ticket really helped me.’ I might have saved a life, but no one ever looks at it like that.”
Hambrick recalled a Hephzibah woman who was verbally abusive toward her mother and addicted to drugs. After a violent tirade, Hambrick arrested the woman for making terroristic threats, sending her to jail but ultimately putting the woman on the road to recovery.
“Her mom, every time I see her, just says that jail changed her life,” Hambrick said. “She’s over her addiction.”
Hambrick’s ability to engage citizens isn’t her only good trait, Flowers said.
“She’s self-motivated,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about her. As a matter of fact, her motivation pushes the other officers to step it up.”
Though it’s hard to escape the stress of law enforcement, even at her Midville, Ga., home – her husband, Phillip, is a Richmond County sheriff’s deputy – she said she keeps her sights set on why she decided to wear the badge.
“We do what we do because we’re trying to help,” Hambrick said.