Females on the force

MARTINS FERRY – For Martins Ferry Police Officers Beth Scales, Mika Armstrong and Ashley Boyd, becoming a police officer is something that they have always wanted to do.

“I’ve wanted to be a police officer ever since I was young. After high school, I went into the military and at that time, I wanted a police officer, but unfortunately the military had stricter regulations when it came to height and weight, and I couldn’t meet the standards to be a police officer in the military,” said Scales, who is a sergeant for Martins Ferry Police Department.

For the Scales, after getting out the military, the desire to be a cop never went away. When the opportunity to go to the academy came, she jumped at the chance.

Armstrong pursued a career in law enforcement because it was in her family. But much like Scales, Armstrong’s desire to become a cop never went away. Armstrong, who has been a cop for more than four years, started as a correctional officer in 2001, which was a job held mostly by men at the time, before going to the police academy.

“I have never seen it as male or female – everybody has strengths and weaknesses. Male or female, either you can do the job or you can’t do the job,” said Armstrong.

Boyd has been an officer for three years, and it is something she has wanted to do since she was a kid because she likes to help people.

“There are not a lot (of female officers) in Jefferson County, but there is a lot in Belmont County, and it is nice to be in a department where I am not the only one and it was already established. Beth (Scales) was the first one,” said Boyd.

“Back when I started, it was predominantly a male environment. Having been in the military, I was kind of used to that attitude,” said Scales, who has been an officer for 21 years now. “Thank goodness things have changed over the years, and there are a lot more women in law enforcement now, and I love seeing that. I think the men in law enforcement have adjusted and realized that we bring something to the table and that women officers have a lot to offer.”

According to Scales, many assume that being an officer is about the size of the officer, when really it is about your ability to communicate with people and handle situations.

“That’s where intelligence comes in and not size,” said Scales. “I do think we surprise a lot of male suspects. They think we are small and can’t do a lot. Underestimating us is our best weapon.”

The hardest part about this job, for any cop, male or female, is balancing the work load and a personal life.

“This is all my daughter has ever known. She is not afraid to go up to anyone in uniform,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong mentioned that the police department has a good relationship with the public, and the department oftentimes host events like the bicycle rodeo and Christmas in the Park, which Scales is working on right now.

“We want to give the youth a positive impression of the police department in general and of the female officers. We try to interact with them as often as possible,” said Scales.

“They have been a massive part of the department and are very hard workers. They make my job a lot easier,” said Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland. “They go above and beyond what they are asked to do, and I really appreciate it. We are very lucky to have them.”