Photo by Elaine Rackley
Hampton Police Officer Adrienne Lara joined the department in March. Lara is bilingual, and Police Chief Rad Porter believes her fluency in English and Spanish is an asset to his agency. Lara has also worked as a police officer in Locust Grove and McDonough.
By Elaine Rackley
Women no longer are unique on police forces, but in the western part of Henry County, officers Adrienne Lara and Rosemarie Milby bring a decidedly feminine touch to patrolling the streets in the City of Hampton.
Each can be likened to a mother with a badge and gun.
Lara, who is a mother of two, said her greatest challenge is encouraging young men to refrain from joining gangs.
"It breaks my heart to see young men walking around with blue, or red bandanas, wanting to be gang bangers," said officer Lara recently. "To see them walking around with their pants down at their knee caps, or mid-thigh, they are not covering what they need to be covering. Nobody wants to see their underwear.
"What are you missing at home that you have to go out there and hang out with a group of people that could care less about you...whether you go to jail or die, they will find someone else to replace you, as soon as you are gone," Lara said.
Lara began her law enforcement career with the Henry County Sheriff's office in 2001. She has also worked for police departments in Locust Grove, and McDonough.
The officer said when she spots teens in their "swag" dress mode, she gets on her loudspeaker and asks them to pull up their pants.
"I know it embarrasses them, but they should know it is a jailhouse mentality, and what it means to walk around in a jail with your pants hanging off."
Officer Rosemarie Milby's antenna for concern aims at youngsters from single-parent homes.
"Young people who have been raised by females seem to appreciate and respect me," she said. "I'm not a judge nor jury, I just enforce the law. Usually, when I'm talking to them they will comply without any attitude."
Milby said the highlight of her career is playing Santa Clause once a year. For about eight years, she has delivered toys to children in the city. This year she is looking forward to collecting toys for Connecting Henry.
Hampton's two female officers are among many women who have served the city since 1975, said Police Chief Rad Porter.
"I [had] been trying to hire Adrienne [Lara]," Porter said. "But, it always ended up that she was busy. She is a good officer and ... she speaks Spanish. She joined the department in March." He said female officers have been very beneficial in rape cases. "[Rape] victims usually don't want to talk with a male officer."
Milby has been in law enforcement for 24 years, half of that time in Hampton. She has also worked as a county deputy.
Both "do a good job," said Porter.
Chiquita Hudson, a member of the wait staff at the local Finish Line Cafe, agrees. "Adrienne [Lara] has always treated me nice," she said. "Rosemarie [Milby] is ... is so funny, I've never seen her mad," added Hudson.
"Not many officers will give you their personal cell number," said pharmacist Phil Hopkins. "I have had a couple of incidents where [Milby] called me at home about something that didn't look right at the store, and she was right."
"She is a great police officer and friend," said Hopkins.
Milby has been married for 24 years to husband Tony, an air traffic Controller. They have two daughters.
"I love working with the children in the community," said Milby. However, the very thing that gives her pleasure, has also brought the most pain, she said.
In 2000, Milby responded to a stabbing call. Her eyes watered as she recalled a 15-year-old boy dying in her arms.
"When we arrived, people were all over the front yard of this house, I could hear people crying and screaming," she said. " We were surrounded by chaos. I walked over to the victim, he was gurgling." She approached him as two other officers roamed through the crowd questioning witnesses. It was a bullying situation. [The victim] went over to the bully's house to confront him, and was stabbed," said Milby.
"Bullying is one of the top things I talk about because [victims] are the silent voices, ... they don't think anyone will listen to them. It's sad," she added.
Neither Milby nor Lara is bashful about making her concerns for children known.
"I have no problem calling a parent to inform them about their children's activities," said Lara. "Most of the time parents are unaware what their children are doing." Parents should know where their children are, what they are doing, and with whom they are spending time, she said.