First female beat officer in Nashville honored for 40 years - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

First female beat officer in Nashville honored for 40 years of service

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The first woman in Nashville to walk a beat as a uniformed police officer was the recipient of a big surprise party on Thursday.

Tennessee Inspector General Deb Faulkner is marking 40 years in law enforcement, but she has been so much more than that. She once served as a child model in a Sunbeam Bread advertisement and received a scholarship to then-Memphis State University for baton twirling.

She then turned in that baton for a different one.

"I said, 'But, Deb, we've don't even know any police.' And she just said, 'This is a new thing, and if I make this, I will be one of the first,'" said mother Ona Faulkner.

When Deb Faulkner became a police officer, her mom bought a police scanner to find out where she was at all times.

The first patrolwoman, first sergeant, first captain, first assistant chief and first ever police chief in the city of Nashville was actually a broadcast journalism major who received a doctorate in psychology from Vanderbilt University.

But it didn't matter, because police work was different.

"It's the call to serve. I enjoy helping people who are in a tight, bad, dangerous situation and try to rectify that situation. And I like to be surrounded by the men and women who also choose that," Deb Faulkner said.

When she was patrolling at the housing projects in the 1970s and no one would talk to the police, she would do majorette tricks with her police baton, and that would attract attention, getting residents to talk to her about what was going on in the area.

And when she became a boss, she was the boss you always wanted.

"Respected, honest, fair and cared about her people," said Hendersonville Police Chief Mickey Miller, who spent more than 30 years with Metro police.

Deb Faulkner said she knows it was a big deal to be the first woman police officer, but she has always been proud that the symbol of justice is a woman. It's a role model for a role model.

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