Anderson breaking glass ceiling

Miryam Anderson, First Female Assitant Chief of Harlingen Police Department poses in her new office. Elsa Cavazos/Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — Being a lover of nature and plants, Miryam Anderson decided to decorate her new office as Assistant Chief of Police with a few cactuses and greenery to give it a more feminine vibe.

Anderson, 49, was appointed Wednesday at the police department with her family and friends in attendance. She is the first female to reach that position.

She has been a part of the Harlingen Police Department since April 1997. According to Chief of Police Michael Kester, she has demonstrated discipline and leadership making her deserving of the title.

In this new position, Anderson will answer to any issues and questions the community might have. Whether they are patrol issues, investigation or support services.

Her duties also involve working alongside the deputy chiefs and making sure the Chief’s orders are told by her to every department and bureau at the station.

“ I chose her because I thought she was the best fit for the position for my style of leadership and what I want done,” he said.

“ We have several people on the department that I considered, but ultimately I decided to go with Miryam.”

Besides her love of serving the community, she insists there is more to female cops than wearing a uniform.

“ I love nature and I love to run,” Anderson said. “I don’t have a window in this new office, but I am going to buy a frame that simulates it to feel like there is one.”

“ Just because I wear this uniform does not mean I don’t enjoy wearing dresses and skirts off duty,” she added.

“ I love arts and crafts, doing crochet and one of the things I believe that women may not know is that we do not lose our identity when you are a cop, it’s still there.”

Anderson has been the first female to hold several positions in the Harlingen Police Department.

It’s something she is proud of.

Anderson believes there are not as many women pursuing law enforcement positions because no one encourages them to do so.

“ I have spoken to a lot of women and sometimes they tell me ‘Oh I always wanted to do that I just didn’t do it’ and nobody ever told them, ‘hey let me show you how it gets done,’” she said.

Because of that issue, she and her team have been brainstorming ideas to recruit more women. One idea is putting flyers at places such as the beauty salon.

“ I believe we need to reach out to areas where women are at and think outside the box, and find areas we have not normally recruited at.”

Anderson believes women by nature like to help and having a combination of men and women solving issues for the community provides two different perspectives.

“ I think that when there are more men and women looking over the issues you have both sides of how you view the problem and the solution and with having that balance we can provide better answers,” she said.

Harlingen Police Department currently has 10 female officers, including Anderson.

Though it is a male-dominated environment, Anderson stresses that it is because of her male colleagues she is where she is today.

“ I have worked with men who are very supportive,” Anderson said. “I am here because I am a creation of my male supervisors who invested in me and took the time to train me. I would not be here today if it weren’t for them.”

Anderson mentioned she received a call from the training officer that answered the phone when she first applied to congratulate her.

“ I told him thank you and because of you, I am here today. I am hoping my influence is not only for females but for males out there, I have sons,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, if you want to achieve or obtain something, go for it.”

Anderson will continue overlooking the same departments she used to but will now work directly with all deputy chiefs and their departments.

“ I am excited. I want to be a resource not only for patrol operations but for other divisions and be readily available at all times while keeping up with the laws and trends, that way if someone has a question I can collectively reach a good decision,” she said.

Anderson’s past positions

• Patrol Officer

• Detective assigned Crimes against Persons

• Support Services Sergeant/Commander

• Criminal Investigations Commander

• Uniformed Patrol Commander (A Shift)

Anderson’s training

• FBI LEEDA, FEMA, IACP, Women’s Leadership Institute, Negotiations, Interview & Interrogation, Homicide, FBI National Academy

• Anderson served in the United States Army / stationed in Korea 2nd Infantry Division and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

ecavazos@valleystar.com