Officer Courtney Loertscher takes her position seriously.
“I can be a role model for girls in Saugerties, and show them that they can be anything they want to be,” says the 24-year-old from southern Ulster County.
Yes, 102 years after the first female police officer was hired in Los Angeles, Saugerties has got with the program. Loertscher is its first full-time female police officer.
Police Chief Joseph Sinagra, who came to the department from the town of Ulster last year as a deputy chief and was appointed chief in April, said the change is a healthy one.
“When I became police chief, I realized that we needed to diversify,” he said. “Being all white and male is not healthy for the department or the community.”
Town Supervisor Kelly Myers said Loertscher will allow the police to better handle certain situations.
“Having a female officer will give the department needed flexibility, especially in cases such as domestic violence disputes and sexual assault investigations that can be highly sensitive in nature,” said Myers.
There were 30 applicants for the job. Sinagra said he went with Loertscher because of her experience in other departments.
“It was a win-win,” Sinagra said. Not only would the town not have to pay for Loertscher to go through the police academy, but she would be Sinagra’s first hire and help him break down the glass ceiling that had limited women to being hired as part-timers only.
Loertscher also has an associate’s degree from SUNY Ulster and intends to pursue a four-year degree. She’s also a former firefighter.
She said she became a police officer “because I want to help people, but also because the job is something new each day.”
Loertscher said she likes dealing with “quality of life” issues. “I want to help people out. I grew up on a farm, and I know what it’s like to face financial pressures,” she explained, and she believes that she can help people who are having a tough time of it to make the right decisions.
“I want to make a difference, help people turn their lives around, and assist them in getting the help they need,” Loertscher said.
“It’s amazing,” she said of being the first female full time police officer in the town. “People have been so friendly.”
Women residents and businesswomen are also reaching out to Loertscher and offering her their support.
Brittney Borgen of Flanigan’s Cleaners on Main St. recently stopped Loertscher while she was on foot patrol in the village and gave her a high-five and welcomed her to the village. “It’s great seeing a female police officer,” Borgen said.