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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A glass ceiling breaks at the Florida Highway Patrol



A groundbreaking moment occurred Friday at the Florida Highway Patrol. For the first time in the patrol's 72-year history, a woman officer was promoted to the agency's No. 2 post as deputy director of field operations. She is Lt. Col. Kelly Hildreth, 38, a 16-year FHP veteran, mother of two, and UCF graduate with a degree in criminal justice.

Hildreth, introduced at a ceremony by FHP Director Col. David Brierton, was chosen from a nationwide pool of more than 50 applicants. The Baltimore native recalled the time her sixth-grade teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up.

"I said, 'I want to be a police officer,'" Hildreth said. "She told me, 'Girls can't be police officers. What do you really want to do?' I thank her for challenging me to prove her wrong."

At the promotion ceremony were Hildreth's daughter Caitlin and son Robbie and her twin brother Kevin, a state trooper in Brevard County. Her parents couldn't attend. "They don't actually know about the promotion yet. They're on a cruise and I haven't been able to get hold of them," Hildreth said.

[Last modified: Friday, September 16, 2011 11:02am]


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