BETHEL - Jessi Nicholson is making history in Bethel.
The 35-year-old Nicholson is the first full-time woman police officer hired by the city. She recently graduated from the police academy in Sitka and is now on the streets working with a training officer.
Nicholson drove to Alaska from northern California when she was 18 to take a cannery job. She has worked as a nursing assistant and a commercial fisherman, but said she wanted a job that would challenge her both physically and mentally every day.
Nicholson said she is very comfortable with her co-workers and everyone has treated her with great respect and has been very friendly and helpful since her arrival.
``I know women have something to offer law enforcement, just as men do'' she said. ``But when it comes to me enforcing the law, I hope it is genderless.''
Bob Petitt, Bethel police chief, said the the city encourages women and minorities to apply to the department. Nicholson was hired because she was a strong applicant, he said.
``We feel fortunate that she chose Bethel as the start of her career,'' Petitt said. ``And we believe her being here will add another dimension to the police department.''
Her arrival will alleviate the sometimes troublesome task of finding a woman available to conduct searches of women in custody, or other issues more appropriate for a woman officer to handle than a man.
Until Nicholson's arrival, the department used civilian female dispatchers or jail guards for searches of female suspects.