(HELENA) The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office is looking for more full-time female deputies.

“There are no pre-requisites to become a Peace Officer or Detention Officer. What we do require though is that you are a good moral character,” said Sheriff Leo Dutton.

Joani Tompkins is the only full-time female deputy for the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

“A lot of the times I get sized up when I get out of the patrol truck,” said Tompkins. 

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Although, having suspects size her up is something she is used to after 15 years.

“I try to be a little more assertive so that they understand that they can’t outsmart me, outwit me or out power me,” Tompkins continued. 

Tompkins is a mother and said it can be hard being away from her kids so often.

Although, she said the Sheriff’s Office was great about letting her take leave when she had her children.

The department also has two part-time volunteer female deputies, Stella Kent, and Jasmine Lucero Benevides.

The two trained in the reserves together three years ago and completed 240 hours of training.

When you are a Sheriff’s Reserve, not only do you volunteer your time, but you also buy your own equipment.

“They are vested with arrest powers. They are vested with the ability to go out and patrol by themselves,” said Sheriff Dutton.

Lucero Benevides is in school to be a nurse and Kent works for the Montana State Fund full-time as an Administrator.

Kent’s mother served on the Spokane Police Force since 1980.

Kent says she knows first-hand how hard it can be to be a mother who works in law enforcement.

“She was a single mom. She had to leave me alone, and I slept all night hoping she was fine and would come back in the morning,” said Kent.

Both reserves say it is the key to proving yourself to other deputies.

“That you can do the job,” said Lucero Benevides.

She said you have to establish trust and confidence in one another.

“We’re all like brothers. They call me one of the guys,” said Tompkins.

Sheriff Dutton says he has a hard time finding full-time female deputies because the job comes with risk.

“It is demanding physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. All of those kinds of things. It will pull on your soul,” said Dutton.

“A full shift consists of 12-hour shifts and by the end of the night you’re just….you know you’re tired,” said Lucero Benevides. 

But with great risk comes great reward.

“When you know you’ve really helped someone in their life in the most critical moments of their life,” said Kent. 

Sheriff Dutton said it is particularly useful to have female deputies work on cases involving assaults or rapes.

“Sometimes it’s just comforting to have the same gender talk to you when you’ve been through a traumatic incident when you’ve had a male attack you,” said Dutton. 

“They may just assume we’re going to be better with them and be more willing to tell us stuff,” said Kent. 

So what makes someone right for the job?

“When it comes to courage I think you know you’re the one if you know that you are afraid, but you still want to do it,” said Kent. 

“You have to be able to take a lot of grief including from your co-workers because everyone can dish it out. You just have to be able to take it and have thick skin,” said Tompkins. 

“Ask yourself if you can kill somebody if your life is in danger and that’s a huge, huge thing to think about before becoming a deputy,” said Lucero Benevides. 

If you or anyone you know is interested in working for the Sheriff’s Office you can apply online.





E-MAIL: sstinson@KTVH.COM