|Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Kellie Oaks cuddles the baby boy she delivered in the seat of a vehicle along Interstate 15. The infant's mother named the child Rylan Oaks Nuttell in honor of the UHP trooper. Oaks is currently recruiting women to apply to occupy positions at the UHP.|
The Utah Highway Patrol currently has three openings for troopers in the Carbon County area and women are encouraged to apply for the positions.
A veteran patrol officer with the UHP, Trooper Kelli Oaks spent five years "working the road" and learning the ropes.
Oaks is serving as a UHP recruiter and attempting to get more women into the ranks of the state law enforcement agency.
The UHP is an excellent career choice for women that is often overlooked, pointed out Oaks.
State troopers have traditionally been men and many women never consider applying for a job as a member of the state law enforcement agency.
Oaks joined the highway patrol when she found herself to be a 31-year old, divorced, single mother with four young children to provide for.
Her options in the job market appeared to be limited. But instead of applying to work at a minimum wage job with no benefits, Oaks decided to go for a position with career opportunities and family medical insurance.
She enrolled in the Utah Valley State College's police academy and began sending out applications.
Oaks was overwhelmed when the UHP offered her a job because she had never seen a woman highway patrol officer.
For five years, Oaks worked I-15 as a trooper before assuming the duties as a recruiter. She expects to be back on the road soon and she loves being a patrol officer.
It has been a satisfying, but difficult journey for Oaks.
Before she remarried, the trooper had to get her children off to school in the morning, commute from Payson to Salt Lake for work and return home to do household chores. But she wouldn't trade the job or the experiences for anything.
"It's a very rewarding job and I wouldn't dream of doing anything else," said Oaks.
The UHP has approximately 520 troopers and 10 of the state law enforcement officers are women.
Since Oaks began recruiting in November, one individual in every six candidates applying for a position with the UHP is now a woman.
The police academy training is not especially difficult for a woman, pointed out Oaks.
The UHP recruiter excelled in firearms training because she did not bring bad shooting habits to the gun range and she has been well accepted by the male troopers.
"We always have backup just a radio call away," said Oaks. "But each trooper has a car and we work by ourselves."
|A longtime Carbon County resident, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Judy Hamaker Mann retired in 2005 as the highest ranking female officer to ever serve with the state's law enforcement agency.|
The UHP trooper indicated that her size and gender are not an issue when she is out in the field.
"No matter how big and tough you are, there is always someone out there who is bigger and tougher. We are taught to use our heads, our training and the tools provided to do what needs to be done," noted Oaks.
Utah Highway Patrol toopers frequently have an opportunity to help people in time of distress.
For instance,Oaks recently delivered a healthy baby boy in the seat of a car along I-15.
When the distress call went out, Oaks was the first responder on the scene.
The mother could not wait for an ambulance and emergency medical technicians to arrive at the scene before delivering the baby
The mother subsequently named the baby boy Rylan Oaks Nuttell after Oaks.
The trooper found that the Nuttells live two blocks from her and she has kept in touch with the family.
Promotions and career opportunities are fully available to women with the UHP.
"We take exams for advancement and the name and gender are not listed anywhere on the grade sheets," explained Oaks.
The highway patrol is an equal opportunity employer.
"I wouldn't hesitate to encourage my own daughters to join," continued the UHP recruiter. "And in fact, my 17-year-old daughter has already said that she is thinking of making the highway patrol a career like her mom. I'd be tickled if she did that."
A woman who recently completed a career with the Utah Highway Patrol is Judy Hamaker Mann.
Mann began her law enforcement career in Carbon County and was the second woman to join the UHP in 1983. She became Utah's highest ranking female UHP trooper ever.
Like Oaks, Mann was a divorced mother of two who completed the police academy after working four years as a dispatcher for the Carbon County Sheriff's Office.
After joining the highway patrol, she was assigned to work the rural highways of eastern Utah where she led the region in DUI arrests. "There is no greater job satisfaction than taking a drunk off the highways," she says.
Hamaker "worked the road" as a Trooper for 11 years. During that time she completed a BS degree in criminal justice from Weber State College, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from BYU. She was promoted to Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, and eventually Lieutenant Colonel, the highest rank ever achieved by a woman in the Utah Highway Patrol.
She worked in the Utah State Capitol for one year as director of the driver's license division, and then represented Utah in Washington D.C. for the national department of transportation highway traffic safety administration. In the nation's capitol she helped compile research and write policy for national traffic safety issues, seatbelt laws, and drunk driver related matters.
Hamaker retired from the highway patrol in March 2005 and was immediately hired as a civilian with the state department of public safety. She is now the director of the state education and development center, which trains and certifies public safety employees.
Hamaker says that she too would encourage young women to take a serious look at the highway patrol as a career possibility. She says it is a great place to work, and her success with UHP shows that the possibilities are unlimited for women who work hard.
To find out more about becoming a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper, contact the UHP website at: www.highwaypatrol.utah.gov or call Trooper Oaks at 801-554-9033.