One of the goals of the Albuquerque Police Department is to make a difference in the local community, and School Resource Officer (SRO) Michele Ackerson Carter is a testament to that ethos. Beyond her duties as an SRO, Ackerson Carter dons a second hat as the head cheer coach at Manzano High School, combining her passions for law enforcement and mentorship.
For Ackerson Carter, the transition from police officer to cheer coach is a daily routine. In just two years, she has successfully merged both roles, fostering connections with students that transcend the traditional perception of law enforcement. While they know they can turn to her for safety as a resource officer, her coaching role provides a more approachable avenue for students to connect. She sees her dual role as an opportunity to bridge the gap between students and police officers, helping break down the stigma surrounding the profession.
“Being a coach and being a police officer, I’m building that bridge with these kids that used to not like police officers, and now maybe they’ll approach them if they have to,” Ackerson Carter told KRQE News.
Her impact on the students is palpable, with many acknowledging the positive change in their perception of law enforcement. Student Destiny Duran shared, “I’ve been able to build a strong bond with her and overcome my fear of police officers that I’ve had since I was a little girl.”
In a state where Ackerson Carter stands as the only woman taking on both law enforcement and cheer coach responsibilities, she is breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes. This unique combination of roles allows her to fulfill not only her professional responsibilities, but also her childhood dream.
“When I was in high school, freshman year, my mom said that you needed to pick a sport,” and Ackerson Carter chose cheerleading over basketball, she recalled to KOB News
But her professional passion goes back even further.
“Since I was 5, I remember going to Grand Central Station with my mom, and I saw a police officer with a canine. And I said, ‘That’s what I want to do when I get older. That’s what I want to do,’” she reflected.
She joined the Albuquerque Police Department seven years ago.
Ackerson Carter sees the skepticism some students have toward cops as an opportunity for transformation.
“They see me as a coach, so it makes me a little bit more approachable to them, and they see me as a person,” she explained.
She hopes she can mentor her students “to be able to work through decisions that they’ve made, either continue with the good decisions or take consequences and move forward and learn from them.” She also hopes she might inspire them the way the officer she saw as a child did: “These cheerleaders see a female officer and think, ‘Wow, I can do anything.’”
The Albuquerque Police Department recently shared photos of Ackerson Carter in action on social media, garnering overwhelming support from the community.
With dozens of comments and over a thousand likes, the response highlights the positive impact she is making, both as a cop and as a coach.