Meet the first woman to hold the top ranks in SPI Police Department

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Ever since she was a young girl, Island Police Captain Claudine O’ Carroll knew she wanted to be in the military.

It was a career she always had the desire and motivation to pursue even if it meant having to travel across the world to get started.

Q: Can you describe how your career in law enforcement began?

A: At the time, the introduction of women into the Irish military was just starting so military positions were not very available to women who were interested in joining. So, I emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1992. My goal was to join the United States military. So, I worked with the Coast Guard in 1993 until 1997. During that time, I was a boarding team member and that gave me my first experience working in law enforcement. We were fully equipped with items such as weapons and bullet proof vests. We would also inspect vessels off-shore and act in a law enforcement capacity.

Q: When did you start your career with the South Padre Island Police Department?

A: I graduated from the University of Texas at Brownsville police academy in 1998. The first position I applied for after graduating was as a part-time officer with the police department on the Island.

Q: How did your job duties change over the years?

A: I’ve been working with the South Padre Island Police Department for 20 years. I was hired as a full-time officer in 1999. I became a police detective in 2001. In 2004, I went back to patrol as a sergeant supervisor per shift. In 2009, I became a sergeant for investigation. In 2013, I became the lieutenant for special operations. This year I was promoted to captain.

Q: Who inspired you to become a police officer?

A: My husband is a law enforcement officer and I met him while I was in the Coast Guard. I saw what he did on land and what I did on the water and it sparked my curiosity to become a police officer. I feel like it is a very challenging and rewarding career. After that, I’ve also met many people over the course of my career, both male and female who have inspired me to move up in the ranks of my career.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about your career?

A: I’ve been able to touch many lives through the course of my job whether they were victims or community personnel. I get to make contact with so many people on a daily basis and make positive impacts in their lives. It’s almost like a form of community service because you feel like you’re giving back to the community. We’re here to protect, listen, enforce and help people on a daily basis.

Q: What advice do you have for women who are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement?

A: There are so few women in law enforcement. I would like to encourage women to apply for these ranks that I know traditionally have been seen as male roles or as a male dominated profession. There’s a place for both men and women in policing. We’re meant to complement each other and not work against each other. I think once you get passed the early years of your career you’ll start to realize how much of an affect you can have on people’s lives for the better. Just stick with it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel in this very rewarding career.

Claudine feels very blessed to serve the Island community for the past 20 years.

“ It’s a really great and supportive community to be in and take care of,” she said. “I’ve never once thought about going anywhere else.”