Thursday, June 13, 2024

Hampton Woman Becomes Youngest Female Department of Defense Police Officer

Officer Kursten Clarke during her FLETC training. (Nina Basantes)

YORKTOWN — Officer Kursten Clarke just graduated from the criminal justice cohort at the New Horizons Regional Education Career and Technical Center at Woodside Lane. Shortly before graduation, her mom saw a flyer and brought it home to Kursten.

“My mom, I really want to give her some credit, knew that I had an interest in something law enforcement related. She had a patient come in who had seen a flyer. They came to my school and did a presentation which made me fall even more in love with the job itself. I applied and here I am,” Clarke says.

Clarke is one of the newest Federal Law Enforcement Officers at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown.

Before going on post, Clarke attended the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in South Carolina. While at FLETC, Clarke was exposed to anything and everything she may have to deal with while on the job. Her favorite?

“My favorite part of being at FLETC was the driving course they had. Doing Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) training there was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life,” Clarke said.

Days at FLETC are long, according to Clarke. There were hours of physical training, range time, scenario-based training exercises, studying, tests, defense tactics classes and lectures on community policing.

Clarke is the youngest female FLETC graduate in the history of the program. However, she doesn’t think her age helped her at all.

Officer Clarke on graduation day from FLETC. (Nina Basantes)

“In my own personal experience, I treated FLETC like how I feel like everyone should. I treated it as a normal academy, doing it for a reason, and to also better train myself for that job. With my mindset and my mental maturity, I really took it just like everyone else did,” Clarke said.

Now on post at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in the Security Department, Clarke takes immense pride in the job and protecting her hometown.

“It feels like I’m protecting my home. I feel like it’s more personal, instead of going somewhere out of state where I don’t really have any personal relationship with that state. Yes, I’d still be working there and having to protect that, but being in my own backyard makes it more personal and it has me more drawn into the job. I love my home so I’d love to stay here and I’d love to protect it as much as I can,” Clarke shared.

Clarke works 12-hour shifts. She could be patrolling, manning the gate, attending to emergencies, defending the base, or maintaining security.

Clarke offers advice to young women who may have an interest in a law enforcement career.

“Make sure you are goal-oriented. If you are very goal-oriented, it’s easy to go after what you want and what you strive for in life. If you have a lot of confidence in yourself and you have a good support system, that can go a really long way. As long as you don’t back down from anything that you say or believe in, you can go far.”

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