A Benton teenager is working toward her dream to change the face and beat the odds of police work.
Courtney Hedden is one of eight students in the Benton Junior Police Academy this summer.
The 17-year-old is taking on another life obstacle of her own, quite literally as she worked to meet the cone-course time Wednesday.
Hedden has dedicated her life to law enforcement before she can legally become an officer at 21.
“I want to help the community, help people in danger,” she said. “That inspires me.”
She's had her sight set on her goal since she was a little girl.
"Females, we don't have enough,” said Sergeant Quinton Jackson, Benton Police Department.
Hedden wants to fill the gap.
"Just this week, I’ve learned how to use a gun; I’ve learned about sex offenders, the different levels, and how dangerous they are,” she said.
According to the National Research Center, the Bureau of Justice statistics show women account for less than 15% of local police officers.
Her love for the field brings hope to departments facing the same problem.
"We would love to be able to expand out. We want to diversify, so it makes our job easier,” said Jackson.
Hedden’s next stop after high school is college, to study criminal justice. She then plans to become an officer and wants to inspire other women to become one, too.
“It’s not for everyone,” she said. “It takes someone who actually wants to do it, who wants to help people,” she said.
Like many departments across the entire country, Benton PD struggles to recruit officers.
They're hiring now. If you are interested in taking on the role of a patrol officer, you can contact the department for more information about applying.