Unlike most police officers, Commander Darlene Lewis didn’t grow up knowing that she wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. Yet, her strong sense of service and community led her to where she is today.
Lewis began her career at the Cedar Park Police Department as an officer in 1998, and has since worked her way through the ranks. In 2013, she was appointed the Commander of the Support Services Bureau by the Chief of Police. As the third highest ranking officer of the Cedar Park Police Department and the highest-ranking female officer, Lewis’ duties include supervising the divisions of communications, criminal investigations and community services.
In the midst of her hectic schedule, Lewis was able to take a break and sit down with Hill Country News to discuss her beginnings as a police officer and what serving the Cedar Park community means to her.
Q: What motivated you to become a police officer?
LEWIS: I think it’s the standard answer that everyone else has. I think that what drives a lot of people to become a police officer is that they have this desire to help people and want to be in a position to serve, however that plays out.
Q: When did you know you wanted to become a police officer?
LEWIS: It wasn’t really until college that I found my path. I started as a business major, and it just wasn’t quite clicking. I ended up taking a criminal justice class, and absolutely loved it. From there, I went to Sam Houston State, and got my degree in criminal justice which really helped me to build that foundation as far as understanding the law and how the criminal justice system works.
Q: What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are now?
LEWIS: Starting in the late 90s in criminal justice and the field of law enforcement as a female that was a challenge and something to overcome because it was a male-dominated field. I was able to overcome it just by going out there, doing the job and showing everyone else that I was capable of fulfilling that role. That’s how it was in the late 90s but it’s not like that anymore, females are extremely well accepted in this field now.
Later on in my career, the obstacle became being able to balance having kids and a career at the same time. Just understanding and letting your kids know that you may not make every single event, but the ones you’re able to attend that you really make sure that you support them in all of their moments and help to encourage them as well. When I was on shift work, it was a little more challenging. But now being a commander, I have a little more flexibility in my schedule. It was really just about balancing the hours and making sure that you have friends and family you can rely on just in case because there are some days that you won’t exactly get off at the end of your shift because some calls go over, and just making sure you have a good support system.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
LEWIS: For me, I think it’s being able to interact with the community. We have such a wonderful community in the Cedar Park area and there are just so many things that you can learn from talking to people. It gives an opportunity for us [the police] to open that line of communication, and just for them to see that we’re people too.