HER Ca­reer

Lisa King makes his­tory in the Hot Springs Po­lice Depart­ment

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents -

Grow­ing up, Lisa King did not dream of blue lights and badges. Her calling to be­come a po­lice of­fi­cer came later dur­ing an armed rob­bery of the gro­cery store where she worked. The sus­pect came into the store, grabbed her and put a knife to her throat. She was 16. “I was an easy tar­get,” King said. “I didn’t see him.” The in­ci­dent sparked King’s in­ter­est in work­ing in law en­force­ment. “I think that’s what first started it, be­ing in that sit­u­a­tion and think­ing about how ter­ri­fied I was. If I can stop or help any­body from go­ing through that, or even re­lated to them with my ex­pe­ri­ence, I’ve done what I set out to do,” she said.

King has worked as a po­lice of­fi­cer for over two decades. On Sept. 8, she was pro­moted to cap­tain, mak­ing her the first woman to hold the po­si­tion in the his­tory of the Hot Springs Po­lice Depart­ment.

King is one of two cap­tains and pre­sides over the HSPD Sup­port Op­er­a­tions Bureau, which in­cludes the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions di­vi­sion, nar­cotics, records, dis­patch and nui­sance abate­ment.

“It is a priv­i­lege to be able to be the first fe­male cap­tain to serve the com­mu­nity the best that I can, and if you will, open the door for oth­ers to come be­hind me,” she said. “When I first got hired, there were not that many fe­males in any type of rank struc­ture. To me, be­ing able to hope­fully open the door for the other women com­ing up or just start­ing is im­por­tant.”

King says she has had to find ways to cope with the tragedies she in­evitably wit­nesses - some in­ci­dences so hor­ri­fy­ing she will not even share them with her fam­ily. For her, com­part­men­tal­iz­ing what she sees at work and hav­ing a strong sup­port sys­tem works best. She stressed the im­por­tance of hav­ing peo­ple who can be there for you af­ter a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult day both at work and at home.

“Be­ing in this line of work is not for ev­ery­one. It is a calling,” King said. “Some­thing hap­pens in your life that leads you to do this. It helps hav­ing peo­ple you can talk to at work be­cause they have seen the same kinds of things and can help you work through it.”

King said she has seen her fair share of do­mes­tic abuse cases and has even seen the ef­fects of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence trickle down into the next gen­er­a­tion. In an at­tempt to com­bat the stag­ger­ing num­bers of do­mes­tic abuse on both women and men, the state im­ple­mented mea­sures within the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to pro­tect vic­tims. These mea­sures re­sulted in Laura’s Law.

Ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal jus­tice in­sti­tute, Laura’s Law re­quires po­lice of­fi­cers re­spond­ing to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in­ci­dents to ask vic­tims a set of ques­tions to eval­u­ate their risk of be­ing killed by abuse. The assess­ment aims to help iden­tify vic­tims in se­vere dan­ger need­ing in­ter­ven­tion. Po­lice will also present vic­tims with a “Laura’s Card,” a doc­u­ment list­ing their rights and con­tact in­for­ma­tion for lo­cal pros­e­cu­tors and shel­ters.

In some in­stances, King says she and other lo­cal of­fi­cers have gone so far as to es­cort vic­tims to shel­ters and en­sure they reach a safe, se­cure des­ti­na­tion away from their abuser.

“The first thing when we get a call for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or a dis­tur­bance is mak­ing sure ev­ery­one is safe when we ar­rive. My thing is to al­ways get (the vic­tim) away from the abuser where you can have one-on-one time with them and let them ex­press what they need to ex­press,” she said.

King says that the do­mes­tic abuse in Gar­land County is not lim­ited to male on fe­male crimes but ex­tends into ev­ery pos­si­ble sce­nario for abuse. Un­for­tu­nately, by the time they are able to re­spond to a call, the abuser has typ­i­cally fled the scene. In that in­stance, law en­force­ment has up to 12 hours to make an ar­rest with­out the need for a judge to is­sue a war­rant. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of vic­tims will ul­ti­mately de­cline to pur­sue charges out of fear of reper­cus­sions from their abuser.

“If we ar­rive on scene and she’s or he’s like, ‘I don’t want to do any­thing,’ but she’s sit­ting there bleed­ing, we can still ar­rest the sus­pect,” King said. “It doesn’t mat­ter if they want to pur­sue charges be­cause the state picks up those charges. That helps pro­tect the vic­tim a lit­tle bit, too.”

All too of­ten King says of­fi­cers re­spond to the same lo­ca­tions and deal with the same peo­ple over and over again, not­ing that it hap­pens across Hot Springs, not just ar­eas with high poverty rates. She said it takes a vic­tim leav­ing up to seven times be­fore they fi­nally muster up the courage to leave for good. When that fi­nally hap­pens, King says the po­lice depart­ment is there, ready and will­ing to help the vic­tim find safe, se­cure shel­ter.

“It’s our job to pro­tect and make sure every­body is safe. We’re go­ing to do our job even when it gets frus­trat­ing. We’re go­ing to han­dle what­ever we need to do,” she said.

King analysing a crime scene.

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