Age No Barrier To Rookie Crime Fighter
READING, Pa. (AP) – At 57, most people are probably counting the years until their retirement.
But not Kathleen Adams, who just graduated from the Reading Police Academy and is the oldest rookie ever on the force.
She recently was one of 18 new city police officers to hit the streets with field training officers.
She’s been working the night shift and supervisors said she’s been making a lot of arrests and doing impressive work.
“I’ve always dreamed of being a police officer,” said Adams of Exeter Township, who has two children and taught for 18 years at Oley and the former Holy Name and Central Catholic high schools.
She’s also bilingual and just a few credits away from earning a master’s degree.
“I was a juvenile probation officer in the ’70s and ’80s and unexpectedly got pregnant,” she said.
She said her options were to work full time or quit when she had her daughter, Rebecca, in 1984 and son, Evan, in 1988.
“I saw the kids as much more important than following my dreams,” she explained.
She worked as a court interpreter until 1989, then decided that as a single mom she could not do that anymore.
“I had to put the dream on hold and never thought I’d get the opportunity,” she said. “Then, two years ago, I saw an ad in the newspaper and took the test and scored the highest and thought maybe I can do this.”
She started doing physical training to prepare because she knew she was going to have to go through the same workouts as everyone else.
“If I’d known how hard the academy was I would not have been brave enough,” she said. “But I’m stubborn and stuck with it. But I could not have done it without my classmates and the instructors.
“I was always last running, which was depressing to me. During one tough run, everyone joined in and cheered for and ran with me and said, `You can do this!’ They wanted me to do it. They coached me, pushed me, pulled me and encouraged and cheered for me. It was really awesome. I’m older than most of their mothers.”
Jason McClean, 27, who is in the Air National Guard and was in the academy with Adams, said she was impressive in her ambition and determination.
McClean moved from Philadelphia for the job and said he is loving the opportunity to train and work here.
“I was surprised seeing a person of her age,” he said. “But she always wanted to do it and had a passion for it. She definitely motivated and inspired me.”
Capt. Mark Spotts, who ran the academy until recently, said he is proud of all the 18 rookies who recently graduated from the academy and joined the department.
He said the field training officers will do their best to mentor and train the new recruits to become productive, professional police officers.
“Officer Adams, through her own determination, and passion to become a Reading police officer, has clearly demonstrated a strong commitment to achieve her goal,” Spotts said. “Diversity of the Reading Police Department is a forefront issue. In the case of Officer Adams, she brings to us Spanish-language skills that our department critically needs to effectively communicate with our community.”
Adams said her husband, Lynn, has been her biggest cheerleader.
“I do things late in life,” she said. “Everyone of us has different skills, talents and weaknesses. I believe I have special talents that will benefit everyone. A woman’s presence usually has a calming effect. I’ll never be as strong as these guys. But I have a level of maturity that most people in their 20s don’t have.
“I’ve made the same mistakes as everybody else. But after the training and everything, I feel like I’m ready for anything.”