Woman becomes a captain for the state police

August 10, 1994|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,Sun Staff Writer

For the first time, a woman will be promoted captain in the Maryland State Police, the agency said yesterday.

Lt. Cynthia R. Smith will become the highest-ranking woman on the force next Wednesday, when her promotion takes effect.

Her elevation to the fourth highest rank in the agency comes 20 years after women first joined the state police force as troopers.

"She's a very sharp individual, and she's worked hard for it," said Sgt. Virginia Lewis, president of the Maryland State Troopers Association.

"She's moved up in rank very quickly. I know she's made sacrifices," said Sergeant Lewis, a friend of the new captain.

Lieutenant Smith's rise through the ranks began in 1982 when she graduated second in a class of 54 at the Maryland State Police Academy. She took command of the state police barracks in Cumberland last year when she became the agency's first female commissioned officer.

Now that she has been promoted, Lieutenant Smith will be reassigned to the personnel management division at the Pikesville headquarters.

Lieutenant Smith, 35, has served previously at the Forestville and Hagerstown barracks and at the McHenry detachment in Garrett County, where she was named Trooper of the Year in 1987.

Sergeant Lewis, who became a trooper in 1974, said the climate on the force has improved for women.

"Things have changed dramatically in 20 years," she said. "There are doors that are open that were not open 20 years ago," such as supervisory positions and assignments with canine units.

Lieutenant Smith and Sergeant Lewis are among 120 female state police officers in a force of 1,598. Six women are attending the training academy.

Lieutenant Smith "continues to provide a level of leadership and professionalism that few can achieve," the state police superintendent, Col. Larry W. Tolliver, said in announcing the promotion yesterday.

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