In service to others

The story is not typical, but it’s how Miryam Anderson can best describe the impact of being a police officer.

The story is not typical, but it’s how Miryam Anderson can best describe the impact of being a police officer.

Earlier this year, Anderson, the first female deputy chief with the Harlingen Police Department, was involved in an arrest.

The young lady had three children living in a hotel and was involved in drug activity. During her arrest, Miryam tried to give the woman some advice.

Miryam Anderson on being a female officer and first deputy chief in the HPD

Our culture is male dominated. When I came here all I wanted was to be part of the team. I was able to prove myself as an officer. As long as I do that, I am part of the team. I admire that they respect you if you can do the job, then you are one of them.”

“We try not to pass judgment,” Miryam says while sitting in her office on the second floor of the HPD. “But we have a job to do. If I have the opportunity to change a life, I will try. We don’t always realize what our words mean.”

Months later, that same woman strolled into the police department, a gift basket full of snacks and other items in her arms. She asked Anderson if she remembered her. Of course the deputy chief said.

“This all motivated her and was a trigger for change,” Miryam says about the woman and her arrest, now with a smile, rather than the sadness from months ago. “Now she is doing great and trying to get her kids back. I can die happy.”

It’s those stories that keep the 20-year Harlingen PD member going through the tough times.

“To remain in service to another is the most wonderful thing in the world,” Miryam says. “I have learned that if we make our main focus in a field to remain in service to one another, everything falls into place and you will have all your emotional needs met.”

When those people helped come back to say thank you, it makes it all worthwhile.

“It is a fulfilling job,” she says with a whiteboard behind her packed with names of the officers she now supervises. “It allows me to do what I wanted – to serve others. Every day I have the opportunity to do that here.”

The road to success

Born and raised in Brownsville, Miryam always sought adventure and to make a difference.

Her road to becoming Harlingen’s first female deputy chief was both typical in some ways and not in other ways.

While at Texas Southmost College, she decided to join the U.S. Army. A flute player who loved music, she changed her path.

“I wanted an adventure and I found it,” she says about the Army. It’s also where she realized self discipline would pave her way to success.

The road led from the Army into law enforcement.

“When I got out, what was important to me was a job that I could give back,” she says. “I wanted to be a servant. I looked at the medical field and then police.”

She discovered the city of Harlingen was hiring and she’s never looked back.

Miryam laughs as she recalls what her first police ID read – “patrol man.”

Since that first job 20 years ago, she has been a detective, sergeant, worked with the traffic unit, and then became commander with criminal investigations before eventually reaching the level of deputy chief.

Making an impact

One aspect has been clear throughout her life – her parents, especially her father, made sure Miryam had no limits in her mind. Over the years, Miryam also forged a competitive desire – always challenging herself and trying to learn more to get ahead of her fellow officers.

Miryam’s parents were both raised in Mexico City and were very proud of their heritage, Miryam says. But, they’re also proud of the culture here. Both earned their citizenships and Miryam says they are extremely proud of that. It’s that foundation of strength Miryam draws on every day.

“The neat thing is they are traditional, but my dad also told me, whatever I wanted to become, I could do it. He never separated me and the boys.”

Early to rise

Discipline also is a key component to Miryam’s success.

She still gets up at about 3:45 a.m. every day, citing the old Army slogan of “We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.” She learned that discipline in the military.

Miryam runs in the morning and is up to 10 miles. She is training to hit 18 by the end of the year with a goal to go to Boston some day and compete in the marathon there.

She also plans to finish college and obtain a degree in social psychology.

Regardless of whether she meets those goals, which based on her history few would bet against her, in her heart, she will always be an officer there to help where needed.

That young lady at the start of this story likely has Miryam and the Harlingen Police Department to thank for her new, better life.

Miryam wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s about remaining in service to others, every day.

Gender no longer an obstacle

Harlingen Police Department Deputy Chief Miryam Anderson has always been around men.

She has three brothers, two sons and has been with the PD for 20 years.

It’s also why she doesn’t believe gender has to get in the way of pursuing dreams and succeeding in whatever career you want.

“One thing I want to say is that in 2017, we are at an age in humanity when gender doesn’t matter,” Miryam says. “We got here. It’s great. It’s fantastic. For those who want to make a difference, my advice is don’t get stopped by being a man or a woman.”

She also is quick to point out, certain careers such as law enforcement and the military don’t mean you have to give up your feminine side.

“I didn’t stop being a woman,” she says.

She still crochets, paints, does arts and crafts. She also is quick to admit she can spend all day in Hobby Lobby or at Home Depot.

“If I want to do something, it is because I have the skills, the heart, desire and motivation,” she says. “Gender does not play a factor.”