Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

February 27, 2013

Chief Stewart breaks through glass ceiling

By Leeann Akers - Editor
Journal-Times

Feb. 27, 2013 — It might be temporary, but Marlene Stewart has broken through the so-called “glass ceiling”.

Stewart, a 15-plus year member of the Grayson Police Department, was named acting chief last week.

With the designation, she became the first woman to hold the position.

Stewart joined the force in July of 1997 and has happily moved up to the administrative sergeant.

Decades after the women’s liberation movement, Stewart said she has always approached her job differently than a man in the same position.

“I’ve never really been the kick-butt type,” Stewart said. “When I was working the street and they got loud or obnoxious, I just ignored them. By the end of it, with people who got out of hand, nine out of 10 times, they would apologize.”

Sometimes people take her quiet demeanor as intense or as Stewart says “being mean.”

“That isn’t me at all, but it works for the job,” she said.

Stewart said one secret to her success as an officer, both on and off the street, is equal treatment.

“You learn over the years what to do, what not to do,” she said. “I have always treated everyone the same, no matter what they are accused of.”

Before becoming a police officer at age 38, Stewart had no law enforcement background.

She worked with the family business, selling Singer sewing machines and teaching people to use them.

Although she first entered the force with the intention of becoming a sexual abuse detective, that eventually fell by the wayside. Still, Stewart is happy with her role in administration, and as the interim chief.

“I feel like I can be most effective in the administrative side of the department,” Stewart said.

She intends to apply for the permanent chief position once it is advertised and hopes to be considered. Meanwhile, her main focus will be accessibility and efficiency.

“I think a chief needs to be here when you can and talk with the people who come in.,” Stewart said. “I feel like a chief should to be accessible to people because sometimes people just want to talk and I want to listen to them.”

Stewart said she hopes that the position will be filled from within the department, even if she isn’t the one to get the job.

“All three of the sergeants work well together,” Stewart said. “We already know the guys; we know what works and what doesn’t. If all three of us applied, we are in agreement that the three of us could work together and make this department more efficient than ever.”

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.