Officer Nichole Gibson never knows exactly what her day will bring when she reports for duty at the Lexington Police Department — and that’s just fine with her.
“It takes a certain kind of person to do this job,” Nichole said. “I love it.”
There are the tense times, like the day she responded to a call that included a shot fired and a fight involving five or six people. Then, there are the exhilarating moments, such as the time she gets to spend mentoring middle school girls.
All of these moments — from dealing with difficult calls to empowering teens to succeed in school — make law enforcement a rewarding career, she said.
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“With everything going on with police officers in the news, I just don’t want people to give up hope in us,” Nichole said. “We are here to serve the community and make it safer. We want to have strong community partnerships.”
SPOTLIGHT ON PARTNERSHIPS
Nichole and other members of the Lexington Police Department were recently featured in the fall 2015 issue of Kentucky Law Enforcement, a statewide publication, for their efforts to strengthen community partnerships.
This includes Nichole’s role as a mentor to girls at Bryan Station Middle School and previously at other Fayette County schools where she has spoken and mentored.
“The girls (I mentor) are hand-picked for me, and my main goal is for them to see someone who looks like them, who can relate to them, and who can show them what they can be,” Nichole said. “I want to give them a different perspective.
“I don’t want them to be a statistic, whether it’s teenage pregnancy, drug use or anything like that.”
She establishes trust and communication with the girls, who are sometimes wary at first to open up to an officer in uniform.
“Middle school is a tough age, and I can relate to many of the issues they’re going through,” Nichole said.
When Nichole was in middle school, she had no idea she would someday have a career in law enforcement.
“My mom was an officer in Louisville in the early 80s, but biology was my first love and I wanted to be a veterinarian,” she said.
Nichole, a Louisville native, graduated from high school in 2000 and received a scholarship to attend Eastern Kentucky University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in public health.
However, Nichole’s love of animals drew her to an animal control officer position. She was promoted to training sergeant just nine months after she was hired, and she loved it.
“That job sparked my interest in my job with the police department,” Nichole said. “We worked very closely.”
In 2010, Nichole began the hiring process with the Lexington Police Department, just about six months after her son Alex was born.
That year, Nichole learned that the importance of timing and patience. As it turns out, there was a hiring freeze, and the already lengthy process was delayed even more for Gibson.
She waited until 2012 — nearly two years — to start the training academy and finally become a police officer.
“I kept my name on the list and waited,” she said. “I finish what I start, and I didn’t want to give up. It was worth the wait.
“This is rewarding work.”