Jessica Botero, 27, has become the first female in history to join the Lawrence, Mass. Police Department’s Emergency Response Team, according to a story in The Eagle Tribune.
This achievement didn’t seem likely earlier in her life. Botero struggled throughout childhood with grades, almost failed out of high school, and was distraught after her best friend died of Leukemia, but she managed to turn things around.
Following the suggestion of her guidance counselor, she showed up to a Lawrence High presentation featuring a female state trooper talking about her job. From that day on, Botero started thinking about her future in law enforcement.
After that presentation, she enrolled in a month-long student trooper academy, which gave her the discipline she needed to get through school. She attended UMASS Lowell, and in 2019, was hired by the Lawrence PD as one of 18 women on the team, and the first woman to be on the Emergency Response Team.
The 16-member team is responsible for hostage situations, drug investigations and searches, and assisting the department’s gang and detective units. The situations they encounter demand intense focus and physical fitness, and are incredibly stressful.
Botero, 5-feet 2-inches tall, runs three miles a day, lifts weights at the gym, and practices Krav Maga, a martial art developed by the Israeli army in the 1940s. To qualify for the team, Botero had to pass intense physical fitness requirements, pistol and rifle requirements, a professional interview, and an obstacle course wearing tactical gear.
Botero said she felt “completely honored” when she was chosen for the team, and is ready “to do whatever it takes to make it work.”
Botero admitted that it’s challenging, but has found a new role model in Sgt. Robert Michaud, the Emergency Response Team squad leader. Now, Botero has a new goal of eventually rising through the ranks and becoming a squad leader herself.
Police Chief Roy Vasque believes that the police department must be representative of the community it serves. Botero, who is of Columbian descent and bilingual, fits right in. Vasque said, “she is an excellent role model for women working in law enforcement,” particularly in areas like the Emergency Response Team, “which have been predominantly male-oriented for years.”
Botero, who describes herself as family-oriented, is now part of a new family, supported by fellow officers as well as her traditional family. She said, “it’s like being supported by two families now.”