LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Anne Carpenter said she sees the new role as colonel of the Nevada Highway Patrol as an opportunity to be a role model for young girls and women who aspire to be in law enforcement.
You could describe the road Carpenter took to colonel of the Nevada Highway Patrol as winding.
"I've had a very interesting career," Carpenter said. "A lot of people don't go back and forth to sister agencies as I have."
Carpenter said it wasn't a childhood dream or family tradition that led her into law enforcement 25 years ago - but rather fate.
"I'm passionate about traffic safety. I'm passionate about public safety and I just didn't know where I fit in and so when I first got the job, I'm like, 'what am I doing here?' But I think it all worked out because of my passion," she said.
Carpenter began her career with the Nevada Department of Public Safety as a parole and probation officer in 1995. After serving as an officer and sergeant for a decade, she was promoted to lieutenant and eventually captain of the Nevada Highway Patrol.
She was promoted back to Parole and Probation as a deputy chief and eventually chief of that agency.
And it's that winding road that has now led her back to the NHP. This time, with the chance to be chief.
"When this occurred, there was a lot to think about and my best friend texted me and said, 'Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she'd say do it.' And so I said, let's do it," Carpenter said.
She says being the first woman in the role comes with the pressure of not wanting to let anyone down, including herself, but she said it's also an opportunity.
"I just want to be a role model for all those little girls out there and all those young ladies that may want to choose law enforcement as a profession someday," Carpenter said.
Law enforcement has traditionally been a male-dominated profession.
In the early years, women most often served as dispatchers and dressed in skirts. But Carpenter said she hasn't faced obstacles because of her gender.
"I am who I am and that's why people either follow me or want me to succeed because of who I am, not because I'm a woman," she said.
Carpenter says as a leader, she has high expectations and expects a lot. But she's also equitable, compassionate and a clear communicator with the underlying team mentality of we're all in this together. It's that same message she hopes to share with Nevada's drivers as well.
"I'm hoping with education and communication that our drivers out there will be mindful of the roadway and take some ownership and responsibility because we're all in this together. One life lost is too many," she said.