Pittsfield Police hire first Latina officer onto force
PITTSFIELD — Lucia Cabral said she never imagined she'd venture from her tiny hometown in Mexico to the ranks of an American police department.
Before she moved to New York at age 12, she said her only foreseeable future was that of a stay-at-home mom. There were no police officers in her village, she said.
That's why, as one of the newest members of the Pittsfield Police Department and its first Latina police officer, she says it's important to dream.
"As long as you have a dream, you'll be good," she wants struggling kids to know. "As long as you don't give up on the dream."
Cabral, 28, graduated from the Western Massachusetts Police Academy on April 12 and then began her training at the Pittsfield Police Department. As with the department's three other new recruits — David Carusotto, Derek Mackey and William Straub — she's now in the midst of a 14-week field training program before she can patrol on her own.
They bring the sworn officer count to 89, Police Chief Michael Wynn said, while the department's budgeted strength is 99 officers and best practices would peg the department ranks at 120 officers.
He said he'll pluck more new recruits from another graduating class next month.
Cabral said she first started thinking about becoming a police officer as a teenager growing up in New York City. She was drawn to the idea of helping people and making the world a better place.
She saw plenty of Latina police officers in New York, she said. Seeing them, she told herself, "I want to do that, too."
"I want to one day wear that uniform," Cabral remembers thinking.
But she said her dad discouraged her from becoming a police officer in New York City, fearing it would be too dangerous. As she grew older and obtained her citizenship, police work remained on her mind.
Cabral said she met her husband in the Marine Corps and then moved with him to Fall River, where he's from. She said she joined the Marines in 2011 and got out in 2016.
She moved to Washington last year, when her husband, Nicholas Cabral, started working as an officer with the Pittsfield Police Department.
Living in the woods has been a bit of a culture shock, she said.
"I was like, 'Where did you bring me?'" she said, laughing.
Nowadays police work is harder because a lot of people don't like cops, she said.
"If one of us makes a mistake, it's not only the one person," she said. "It's the entire law enforcement."
It works the same way in the Marines, she said, where she learned discipline and respect.
Her colleagues at the department have been very accepting of her, she said, and patient with the fact that English is not her first language.
"Everyone was really welcoming," she said.
Cabral said her 5-year-old daughter, Sophia, gets excited about seeing where she works. She said she tries to remind the Sophia and her 1-year-old, Gabriella, how lucky they are.
Of the fact that both her parents are police officers, Cabral said, Sophia "was really proud."
Amanda Drane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.
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