Not letting other people’s stereotypical image of a police officer stand in her way, Ginger Wells just wants to have a positive affect on those she meets.
Q: When did you begin working with the Knightdale Police Department? Are you the only female cop?
“I have been with Knightdale about three months. Patricia Moore was here and we recently hired Amber Lopez.”
Q: Is this your first law enforcement job?
“No. I worked with the Nash County Sheriff’s Department for 14 years and I worked with the Rocky Mount Police Department for three years before I came to Knightdale. And I have about done it all. I have worked as a patrol officer, a crime scene investigator, a school resource officer, a court officer, you name it. I worked my way up as a senior officer. But when you change jobs, you have to start all over again.”
Q: Is this your dream career? Did you ever have aspirations of doing anything else when you were growing up?
“I have never had an interest in anything else but law enforcement. My mom was a district secretary with the North Carolina Highway Patrol so I was around officers a lot growing up. Of course, when you are younger, you think it is cool because of the lights, sirens and fast cars but I really got involved for a different reason. I know it sounds like a corny answer but it is the only answer – I wanted to help people. When you are in law enforcement, everyday is different. You get to meet different people every day and you have the opportunity to affect their lives.”
Q: What has been your biggest surprise about law enforcement? Anything about the profession that maybe you didn’t realize going in?
“I did not realize there was so much human suffering. And I never realized the level of human suffering that goes on within a community.”
Q: For instance?
“Extreme poverty. Child abuse. Sexual abuse. The way innocent people are victimized by crime. You see so much that other people never see. When you grow up in a good home with a good family life, like I did, you just don’t realize all the time that everyone is not so fortunate. It is a real eye-opener.”
Q: As a female officer, do you encounter any prejudice? Do people assume you are not as capable as a male officer?
“There is not as much (prejudice) today as it was 17 years ago when I started but it is still out there. I had a man tell me he wouldn’t even talk to me – he wanted to talk to a male officer. And some will try to make you prove yourself. You just have to focus on the reason you are there. You can’t change everyone’s opinion. You will always run into some kind of bias – you just don’t take it personally. You just take a deep breath and smile – that gets them more than anything else.”
Q: When you are not fighting crime, how do you like to spend your time?
“I like doing about anything outside. I like going to the beach, and I like to camp and hike. I like to play disc golf. I also like to work with my hands. I grew up in Rocky Mount but I really don’t have much family there. My mom and dad moved to Lake Gaston. I have five brothers and sisters so we like to get together at the lake when we get the chance. I love to fish. I am not married and I don’t have any kids but I have two dogs that are like my children. My best friend had a child recently and made me the godparent. I like spending time with friends and family.”
Q: Of all the cases you have investigated, what two stand out in your mind the most. Maybe one was the most difficult, and the other was able to have a good ending?
“The most difficult had to be a quadruple homicide I investigated in Nash County. A man killed the members of his own family – including his 10-year-old son. That was a tough case – I will never forget that one. The other was a child abuse case I investigated in Rocky Mount. It was right before the Christmas season. We were able to make an arrest and remove the children. Church groups got involved. The Department of Social Services got involved. We got the children to a better home and we were able to provide Christmas for that family. We saw how much being able to provide Christmas meant to them. To see a child’s face light up like that – that is the good stuff.”
Correspondent Dena Coward