At first glance, one would think that Master Police Officers Brittany Jenkins and Mike Grant have little in common.
As Culpeper Police Chief Chris Jenkins pointed out, Jenkins is a seemingly always smiling, petite blonde and Grant is a hulking figure that epitomizes the popular conception of a police officer.
But underneath, it’s almost a mirror image, Jenkins said.
Jenkins is as tough as they come and Grant is a big teddy bear who umpires baseball in his spare time.
Their paths were also extremely different to their latest promotion to Master Police Officer, which was recognized during a dual ceremony Aug. 26.
Proving doubters wrong
Jenkins knew at the young age of 5 that she wanted to be in law enforcement. She wanted to help her community by serving and protecting and after she moved to Culpeper in 2006 she quickly started on her path. By 2009, she was sworn in as an officer at the Culpeper Police Department.
But what should have been a joyous occasion was rocked by a snide comment by a fellow officer. “You don’t belong here,” she was told.
Now every morning, she looks in the mirror and uses that phrase to push her to be a better public servant.
“Initially, it was heart-breaking because this was something I had wanted to do for a very long time,” Jenkins said. “I said ‘I’m going to take this as an opportunity to prove him wrong.’ Ever since, everyday I’ve made it a point to be a stronger officer because of those words and to prove to the world that women are as important as men are. I think we belong in this field more now than ever.”
Now a detective, she has used her influence to become more involved in the community, especially with youth. She can routinely be seen in public with younger members of the community and she is involved with the Law Explorer program.
A mother of Heston, 5, and Mason, 2, she knows the importance of a strong female figure in children’s lives.
“Also one of my specialties as a detective is child crime, so I know they need a mentor, they need someone to look up to,” she said. “They need someone to take them to the grocery store when they need food. It’s crucial to me.”
Chief Jenkins said the examples given of her servitude just scratch the surface of what she has accomplished.
“She is a shining example of our agency,” the chief said.
And almost on cue, Jenkins’ son Mason leaped into his mom’s arms, her face lighting up with joy.
“I said a long time ago I wanted to make a difference in my community and I feel that’s the best way to do it, is starting with our little people up,” Jenkins said.
For Grant, his career has hinged on the fact that he has a supportive family at home.
Pointing out his wife Donna and his son, Grant thanked them for always being there during a career that began in 1981.
“There were many nights I didn’t show up for dinner or I was late for dinner,” Grant said. “Donna never complained.”
For more than 30 years, Grant has helped pass his knowledge down to younger police officers – which is one of his greatest joys.
“I’ve always tried to help the younger officers,” Grant said. “They come to me with different questions, they want my opinion on different things and I enjoy doing that. My son is a prime example, he’s a police officer and he had to learn from somewhere. I try to help where I can, if it helps the department that’s what it’s about.”
Grant said that law enforcement has changed tremendously since 1981, becoming more technical. One aspect that hasn’t changed has been the support of the community, which he says has backed the agency “110 percent.”
“To work for a community that will back you is tremendous,” Grant said.
Chief Jenkins joked that he has said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but Grant has proved him wrong.
Grant is just as committed to the community as his Master Police Officer counterpart Brittany Jenkins, having served as an umpire, as a Cub Scout Leader, a member of Salem New Baptist Church and having helped with 4-H.
“I’ve been with the Little League for a little over 30 years,” Grant said. “I’ve been fortunate with umpiring, I’ve umped in the Southern Region and I’m hoping for the World Series (some day).”
The most important aspect though, comes back to his family – especially his wife. Donna Grant has battled cancer for the past few years, but she sat proudly on Friday, helping pin her husband who has sometimes been late to dinner, but has always been on time when it comes to serving the community.
“It means everything to me,” Grant said, his eyes welling with tears. “This job is tough and if you don’t have a supporting family it becomes tougher. It takes a very special person to be a police officer’s wife and Donna is that person. She’s supported me my whole career.”