Call her determined and diligent, articulate and athletic. Call her Detective Brittany Jenkins.
Jenkins was promoted from patrol officer to detective with the Culpeper Police Department in April.
âShe’s not only a great police officer, but she also represents the community well,â said Chief Chris Jenkins (no relation). âShe’s a big part of our wellness program, LawFit and her communications skills are impeccable. She gets along with folks from all walks of life.
âWe ask our folks to wear a lot of different hats and one thing she volunteered for and is really good at is working with the Youth Explorers. I wish we had even more like her.â
Jenkins was born in Maryland but moved to Montana when she was about 10 years old, eventually graduating from high school in Bozeman at age 17.
âI had two choices of what I wanted to do, the Coast Guard or law enforcement,â she said. âI found out I couldn’t do law enforcement until I turned 21 so I figured I’d go into the Coast Guard and bust my butt for four years until I was eligible for law enforcement. But I had foot surgery and that nixed that idea.â
Jenkins said that at that time she had never been to Virginia, but an aunt who lived in Culpeper told her what a nice place it was.
âI moved to Culpeper in September of 2006 and got a job at Gold’s Gym,â she said. âIt wasn’t the right fit for me, though, and when I saw an ad for a clerical administrative assistant with the (Culpeper County) Sheriff’s Office I applied and got the job.â
Jenkins said that Jim Branch was sheriff when she turned 21 and she went to work as a deputy at the jail.
âI think the world of the sheriff’s department but every four years you face the possibility you are not going to have a job if a new sheriff is elected,â Jenkins said of her reason for switching to the police department in late 2009. But working at the jail teaches you how to deal with people, skills you won’t get anyplace else.â
At the police department, Jenkins, Sgt. Norma McGuckin and Officer Holly Hill are currently the only three females, although Jenkins said two more have been recently hired and are undergoing training.
âI knew coming into law enforcement that it’s a man’s world,â she said. âI’ve been told at times that women don’t belong in law enforcement and that I won’t succeed. When I hear ‘you won’t’ I turn it into a driving force to excel. I think I’ve done OK.â
Crime fighting in her blood
Jenkins said when she was a little girl she âhad a cop car with lights and I wore a blue helmet and I would chase my little sister who had a pink Barbie car until she cried.â
âI come from a long lineage in law enforcement. My dad was an officer and I’ve had other relatives with the FBI and CIA. I knew at a young age that I wanted to help people. It doesn’t matter if I’m 25 years old and only 5-foot-2. I work out and keep myself physically fit.â
In fact, Jenkins has won several awards at LawFit Challenge competitions, the equivalent of a law enforcement Olympics of sorts. She ran track â hurdles, relays and sprints â all the way from middle school through high school and has eight years of Tae Kwan Do training.
Jenkins said being a detective has been a big change for her.
âI’d been on the road for three or four years and knew the essentials of patrol, the routine.â she said. âDetective is a whole new world, There are all these tools you have to remember.â
Jenkins said that even when working by herself on patrol during the night shift she did not feel scared.
âI only had to go hands on a few times in four years. That’s a benefit of being a female. I can talk my way out of most things,â she said, laughing. âI have been in a few scary situations, though.â
Jenkins related how one shift she was working with a field training officer and they stopped a vehicle at about 1 or 2 a.m.
âWhen we stopped the car your first instinct is to get the driver out of the car so they don’t take off. Scott got him out, but he struck Scott and ran at me. I grabbed him, but he elbowed me in the face. I let him go. Scott attempted to taze him, but it was ineffective. We both went hands on and got him to the ground and cuffed him. The female was standing behind us at the time and I wanted to make sure she wasn’t going to get involved. I kept giving her instructions to stay back.â
Jenkins said when she got back to the station, several officers approached her and said they were happy with the outcome.
âThey wanted to see what I would do in a situation like that, because some girls back off and run,â she said. âI earned my wings that night. They called me bulldog for two months. I never want to go hands on with anyone, but sometimes that is what’s necessary and many officers on this case said they were happy that I stepped up to the plateâ¦we were lucky no one got hurt.â
As a road officer Jenkins said she took precautions to make her job safer and to look professional.
âI wore my hair the same way every day, up, I didn’t wear makeup and I made sure my uniform was pressed and starched,â she said. âI felt people wouldnât take me seriously if I didn’t look professional. I didn’t wear earrings or wear my hair down because I didn’t want to get the earrings or hair pulled and I didn’t wear my engagement ring, just my wedding band.â
To become a detective, Jenkins had to write a letter to the examining board stating why she thought she could do the job. Then she had the oral interview before a panel.
Jenkins said her main challenge right now is to be professional while not getting too personally attached to a case.
âI don’t want to get to the point where I bring it home,â she said. âWe deal with things humans shouldn’t do and then we have to try to shut that off. We see a different side of human nature than most people do.â
Jenkins said some people think her work is easy.
âBut they don’t see the countless hours away from my family,â she said. âThe day doesn’t end at 12 hours. People are sometimes quick to criticizeâ¦but I don’t just want to do my job. I want to be good at it.â
Jenkins is married to David, a deputy with the sheriff’s office, and they have a son.
As far as future goals, Jenkins said she would eventually like to move into a supervisory position and long term, âit would be very cool to end up in the FBI.â
âThey call law enforcement a brotherhood and the officers really mean it. âYou get a lot of support from others in the field.â
âBrittany is a great role model for the youth of our community and for new recruits,â Chief Jenkins said. âShe has so much energy and she’s a big part of what we do. She really cares about people.â